State governments and private companies will be permitted to buy and administer Covid-19 vaccines as long as they inform federal authorities of their plans, President López Obrador said Friday, countering an earlier statement by a senior health official.
He said that governments and companies that decide to do so must forward their purchase agreements to federal authorities. They must tell the government how many doses they are buying, when they will arrive and where they will be administered, López Obrador said.
The president stressed that state governments and private companies will only be permitted to buy and administer vaccines that have been approved for use in Mexico.
“For example Pfizer [and] AstraZeneca [vaccines], … those that are being administered in the world, those that have been authorized in Mexico or are about to be authorized,” López Obrador said.
He said the reason why state governments and private companies must tell federal authorities where they intend to inoculate people is so that there is no duplication.
“There is a national vaccination plan and we’re going to fulfill the commitment to vaccinate all Mexicans,” López Obrador said.
However, the government has no intention to monopolize the vaccination process, he explained, adding that whoever wants to buy vaccines is free to do so.
“If we said they can’t imagine what Reforma [a frequently critical national newspaper] would be saying. ‘The business sector wants to buy the vaccine but the government doesn’t let them’. … If they want to carry out a plan [to vaccinate workers] parallel to the national plan, there is no problem. They just have to say where they’re going to vaccinate and who they’re going to vaccinate and … [inform] whether the vaccines are good,” López Obrador said.
He didn’t reveal whether the private sector would be permitted to charge people for shots they receive.
The president’s announcement comes after Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, the government’s coronavirus point man, said federal authorities didn’t want states to be involved in the vaccination process.
“From a technical point of view, the guideline is to recommended not to do that,” López-Gatell said, adding that if each state had its own vaccination strategy Mexico would become more like a “disorganized anarchic community” than a country.
The federal government began its national vaccination program on December 24 and as of Friday morning had administered 567,379 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to health workers.
Mexico will not receive a new shipment of doses of that vaccine until the middle of next month because Pfizer is carrying out upgrades to its plant in Belgium in order to boost production.
Millions of shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University, Sputnik V and CanSino Biologics vaccines are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and the government is aiming to inoculate just over 14 million people by the end of March.
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