Healthcare workers will be the first people in Mexico to be immunized against Covid-19 under a five-stage national vaccination plan presented Tuesday by the federal government.
Second in line are people aged 80 and over followed by those in the 70-79 age bracket.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, the government’s coronavirus point man, told President López Obrador’s morning news conference that the intention is to administer Covid-19 vaccines to about 75% of the population aged 16 and over by the end of next year.
According to the vaccination plan, the immunization of frontline healthcare workers using the Pfizer vaccine will begin this month and conclude in February 2021.
Health Minister Jorge Alcocer said Monday that people considered particularly vulnerable to a serious Covid-19 illness due to existing health conditions will also have early access to immunization.
The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be approved by the health regulator Cofepris this month and a first shipment of 250,000 doses is to arrive soon after. That number of doses will allow 125,000 healthcare workers to be inoculated as each person requires two shots given 21 days apart.
Mexico struck a deal with Pfizer last week to buy 34.4 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, which was shown to be 95% effective in phase 3 trials. One million doses are slated to arrive in Mexico in each of January, February and March and a shipment of 12 million doses is expected in April.
In stage 2 of the vaccination plan, which will run from February to April, the government intends to immunize non-frontline health workers and people aged over 60, starting with those 80 or older. Immunization of people aged 50-59 will occur in stage 3 in April and May while those between 40 and 49 are to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in stage 4 next May and June.
In stage 5, the rest of the population will be immunized between June 2021 and March 2022.
López-Gatell said the vaccination schedule creates “new horizons of hope” for Mexico and the world.
“We’ll be working throughout 2021 as the different vaccines appear,” he said, adding that the government already has agreements to purchase three.
The deputy health minister predicted that more vaccines will be approved in 2021, providing the opportunity to purchase additional shipments from different suppliers.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard noted that the government has an agreement to purchase 77.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, adding that it will sign a deal this week to buy 35 million doses of China’s CanSino Biologics vaccine.
Phase 3 trials of the CanSino vaccine and four other Covid-19 vaccines are currently taking place in Mexico, he said.
“In a nutshell, we have access to the vaccine,” the foreign minister said. “It will be up to us to approve [each one] or not. We have guaranteed and signed access.”
Cofepris’ approval of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be facilitated by its likely imminent authorization by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. The rollout of the vaccine began in the United Kingdom on Tuesday.
In Mexico, the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine could be administered to health workers in Mexico City and Coahuila as soon as next week. That Mexico will be one of the first countries in the world to inoculate people against Covid-19 is “a great achievement,” Ebrard said.
Mexico has been one of the worst affected countries by the coronavirus pandemic, currently ranking 12th for confirmed cases and fourth for Covid-19 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The accumulated case tally increased to 1,182,249 on Monday with 6,399 new cases reported while the official death toll rose to 110,074 with 357 additional fatalities.