MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico sees an end to the coronavirus pandemic on the horizon with first doses of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine scheduled to arrive within weeks, said a top official responsible for the international response. land on the health crisis. .
Martha Delgado, a deputy secretary of state charged with helping ensure vaccine supplies for Mexico, said Pfizer had agreed to deliver doses to the various vaccination points in the country rather than a central distribution center.
That will significantly reduce a potential logistical nightmare for Mexico, which does not have the super-cold storage facilities needed to distribute the footage.
The Pfizer vaccine is based on a new technology that uses synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) to activate the immune system against the virus and must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below.
“The super-freezing cold chain that requires this particular vaccine would be handled by the company to the point of delivery,” Delgado told Reuters in an interview late Thursday.
Mexico has signed an agreement with Pfizer to acquire 34.4 million doses of its two-stage vaccine, and the first 250,000 shots are expected to arrive this month, with deliveries likely to continue until December 2021. The government has said it will prioritize vaccinating health workers. .
The prospect of vaccine release is the “beginning of the end” of the pandemic, Delgado said.
Pfizer submitted details about its vaccine to Mexican health regulator, Cofepris, last month and is awaiting approval.
The agreement is that 250,000 doses will be shipped by December once the vaccine is approved. After those shots reach their destination, delivery of the second dose is triggered three weeks later, Delgado said.
The government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has also signed a pre-purchase agreement for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University. Mexico expects that between March and August, sufficient doses will be administered to inoculate 38.7 million people.
But a hiccup in the late-stage clinical trial of that vaccine where some volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose instead of two full doses could slow delivery, Delgado said.
The first half-dose cartridge was found to be 90% effective in preventing disease, versus a 62% success rate with the two full doses, according to interim data.
“Once we have the results of the survey confirming (the new data), I think they will also tell us if we have a week, two, or I don’t know how much delivery delay is,” Delgado said.
Mexico also has a pre-purchase agreement to provide doses to 35 million people of a vaccine from China’s CanSino Biologics Inc, which is conducting large-scale trials in 19 test centers across the country.
Delgado said CanSino’s trial in Mexico has enrolled about 15,000 participants from a global program of 40,000 volunteers, and delivery could take place from early next year to September 2021.
Mexico had said the first deliveries could take place in December.
“More than a third of CanSino’s global clinical trial takes place here in Mexico. So this is very relevant; it also shows technical confidence, ”said Delgado, adding that the Chinese company has invested more than $ 280 million in Mexico.
In addition, Mexico has secured enough vaccines to cover 20% of its population through the global COVAX facility mechanism, led by the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization to promote fair access.
Mexico has a population of more than 120 million and the virus has killed more than 108,000 people. Infections are around peak levels, so hopes are high on the vaccines.
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Delgado said.
Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Adriana Barrera; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Bill Berkrot