By MARK LORENZANA
Deputies from three Mexican political parties — the conservative National Action Party (PAN), the centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Citizens’ Movement (MC) — are set to file an official complaint with Mexico’s Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) for the expiry and wastage of more than 5 million covid-19 vaccines.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, Mexican daily newspaper Reforma reported that 5.4 million covid-19 vaccines had expired in June of this year and are set to be thrown away. Of the total wasted vaccines, 3.4 million are of the AstraZeneca brand, donated by the U.S. government, and stored in a warehouse of the Biological and Reagent Laboratories of Mexico (Birmex) in Cuautitlán Izcalli, in the State of Mexico (EdoMéx). The rest are 1.6 million expired Sputnik V vaccines, which were purchased by the Mexican government, and kept at the National Institute of Virology.
The deputies said in a statement that they will likewise request Mexico’s Public Function Secretariat (SFP) and the Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF) to initiate an investigation into the case, in addition to requesting the Health Commission of the Chamber of Deputies to summon the authorities responsible for the purchase, acquisition and distribution of the doses.
PAN Deputy Éctor Jaime Ramírez earlier said that not only does he believe that allowing millions of vaccines to expire constitutes criminal negligence, but that health authorities ignored repeated warnings from deputies. He pointed out that, for months, the Chamber of Deputies has been sounding the alarm that vaccines were about to expire, and that they should be used as soon as possible.
For his part, MC Deputy Salomón Chertorivski lamented that the government “destroyed the system for planning, purchasing and supplying medicines,” which “caused (non-covid) vaccination coverage of children to fall catastrophically.”
For instance, Birmex, a state-run drug distributor, has figured in a separate controversy involving the distribution of medicines, aside from the current expiration of vaccines. In August of this year, Birmex admitted that it has not been able to run the government’s medicine-distribution program due to lack of resources.
Chertorivski said that in 2012, Mexico registered a 75 percent vaccination coverage for children under five, but by 2021 this percentage fell to less than 30 percent.