Mexico to get first local COVID-19 vaccines, share with Argentina

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Mexico
Workers unload a batch of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine after its arrival at Benito Juarez's international airport in Mexico City, Mexico February 14, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

MEXICO CITY, May 25 (Reuters) - Mexico will this week receive its first batches of locally-produced AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccines against COVID-19, and will send half the consignment to its production partner Argentina, the Mexican government said on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico would at the weekend receive 800,000 AstraZeneca doses and send 800,000 more to Argentina, which is working with Mexico to produce vaccines from the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company.

Mexico, which is using an active ingredient made in Argentina, had initially aimed to begin production of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March. Hold-ups at the plant in the State of Mexico near the capital have pushed back the deadline.

"We now finally have this vaccine available," said Ebrard, who added that Mexico was just awaiting a green light from AstraZeneca in Britain for the vaccines to be released.

Ebrard was speaking at a news conference with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that also featured Argentine President Alberto Fernandez on video link as the two governments celebrated the start to production.

The production at the Liomont plant aims to supply AstraZeneca doses across Latin America, where a number of leading politicians have complained that richer countries have been hoarding vaccines at the expense of poorer nations.

"Without this deal, it wouldn't be possible to conclude vaccination in 2021," Ebrard said later on Twitter.

Due to the difficulties in starting production, Mexico has also been receiving AstraZeneca vaccines from Argentina via the United States, where they were bottled. read more

Writing by Dave Graham, editing by Louise Heavens

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