COVAX to Send Mexico 10 Million Covid Vaccines after Threat of Lawsuit

Photo: World Health Organization


The Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) will send 10 million Pfizer doses for children to Mexico, after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) threatened to file a lawsuit against the United Nations-backed alliance, which owes the country $75 million worth of vaccines.

According to Mexican Undersecretary of Public Health Hugo López-Gatell, speaking at López Obrador’s daily press conference on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 23, COVAX responded and promised to deliver “10 million doses for children as soon as possible.”

“For Mexico, access to vaccines has been very problematic through the COVAX mechanism,” López-Gatell said. “There have been late deliveries and little clarity in the criteria for assigning vaccines, quantities of doses and delivery schedules of the vaccines.”

López-Gatell said that for the past year, Mexico has been able to satisfy its vaccine needs through direct contracts with pharmaceutical companies, and that vaccines from COVAX “were only a complement.”

“We have been asking and asking for almost a year now for them to deliver the doses that they owe us, which have already been paid for,” he said.

Mexico ordered more than 51.5 million vaccine doses through COVAX, but a UN website tracking vaccine deliveries has shown that the country has so far received only 24.6 million doses. That means COVAX has only delivered vaccines worth $84 million of the $159 million that the Mexican federal government paid in advance.

In early 2021, wealthy nations snapped up the majority of the initial covid-19 shots to shore up their own inoculation campaigns, causing an uproar from developing countries, including Mexico, about unfair vaccine distribution.

COVAX was specifically formed to allocate and distribute vaccines equitably and efficiently, especially to the least-developed nations, but the program has had mixed results. A report by the New York Times detailed the problems that African countries experienced last year with COVAX, which included unused doses that eventually expired, slow vaccine deliveries, “difficulty getting doses from airport tarmacs into people’s arms” and the fact that the UN-backed alliance has struggled to acquire doses for distribution.

López-Gatell said that Mexico was already in the process of closing a deal for COVAX to deliver the 10 million Pfizer doses that will be allocated for the inoculation of children. He added, however, that the vaccines must arrive no later than September, or Mexico will take legal action.

“An essential condition is that we have to have them very soon, in September at the latest,” López-Gatell said. “And of course the government of Mexico reserves its right to take any action, even legal, if COVAX does not comply with this commitment.”

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