Mexico earmarks $1.6 bln to buy COVID-19 vaccine

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MEXICO CITY: Mexico will earmark just over 1.6 billion U.S. dollars (about 35 billion pesos) to purchase vaccines against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for some 116 million people, top government officials said on Tuesday.
Before the end of the year, Mexico will make an initial advance payment of 321.21 million U.S. dollars for the vaccine, Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said while presenting the country’s updated strategy to combat the pandemic.
“The total value of the acquisition or purchase of these vaccines is 1.659 billion dollars at today’s exchange rate, which is 21.21 (pesos per dollar). It is equivalent to 35.153 billion pesos,” Herrera told reporters at a press conference.
Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said that in addition to the pre-purchase agreements, the government is in talks with seven laboratories to enable phase III clinical trials of certain vaccines to be carried out in Mexico.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would like to see a vaccination drive nationwide between December of this year and March 2021, although it remains to be seen whether an effective vaccine is available by then.
“We are getting ahead of ourselves to be one of the first (countries) to have the vaccine, which will be universally applied, that is, to everyone,” said the president.
“It is for the entire population free of charge,” with priority groups to “be defined in due course as the vaccine becomes available,” he added.–Agencies