MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The United Nations-backed COVAX vaccine program has offered Mexico 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 shots for children after the country’s president vowed to complain to the U.N. over delays, a senior Mexican official said on Tuesday.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this week said Mexico was owed $75 million after it received less than half the 52 million vaccine doses it was allocated under the COVAX program, which aims to distribute shots equitably worldwide.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which backs COVAX along with the World Health Organization, said its offer had now been accepted following months of talks with Mexican authorities.
“These doses are available now, and can be shipped by the manufacturer as and when Mexico is able to receive them,” a GAVI spokesperson said.
Earlier, Mexico’s coronavirus czar Hugo Lopez-Gatell said it was “essential” the doses arrive by September.
“Right now there’s a large surplus of vaccines globally, and many high-income countries are almost desperate to give away shots that would earlier have been opportune to protect lower-income countries,” he told a regular news conference.
Wealthy nations last year snapped up most initial shots to inoculate their own citizens first, prompting complaints about unfair distribution.
After inoculating its adult population, Mexico had declined a shipment of adult doses and requested vaccine for children instead, Lopez-Gatell said. COVAX initially said these were not available for mid-to-high-income countries, he added.
The World Bank considers Mexico an upper middle-income country.
(Reporting by Sarah Morland and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
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