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Mexico aiming to start COVID-19 vaccinations in December

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine could start being administered in Mexico in mid-December if it is approved by the country’s health regulator, Mexico’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Syringes are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken, November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Pfizer was scheduled to submit details on the vaccine’s use to regulator Cofepris on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing the regulator to begin its analysis in line with its U.S. counterparts, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a regular news conference.

“Pfizer - if Cofepris approves - will reach Mexico in December of this year,” Ebrard added on Twitter.

Pfizer last week applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA will discuss the emergency use authorization on Dec. 10.

Once the vaccine is approved in Mexico, Ebrard said it would take about five days for a shipment to arrive in Mexico from laboratories in either the United States or Europe.

“It’s good news for Mexico. We’re going to start just with a short gap behind the United States and Germany,” Ebrard told the news conference.

Mexico has pre-ordered several different vaccines, both through the WHO-backed COVAX program and bilaterally.

While Pfizer may be the first to get approval, AstraZeneca’s offering could end up being more widely distributed since it will be partly made in Mexico and does not require such cold storage.

“The logistics of distribution will be more simple relatively,” Ebrard said.

Mexico is also conducting large-scale Phase 3 trials at 19 test centers for the Chinese CanSino Biologics Inc candidate, and expects to start similar trials for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit once the first doses arrive this week and Cofepris authorizes the trial, Ebrard said.

The regulator is studying a request by U.S. laboratory Novavax Inc to conduct late stage trials in Mexico, and Germany’s CureVac NV is studying the possibility of Mexican trials, he said.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, Raul Cortes and Ana Isabel Martinez; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

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