Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Thursday that Mexico will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate people against Covid-19 despite cases of thrombosis among recipients in Europe.
Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended use of the vaccines on Thursday after several reports of severe blood clots. Denmark announced its suspension after a 60-year-old woman who received an AstraZeneca shot died after developing a clot.
Speaking at the government’s coronavirus press briefing on Thursday night, López-Gatell said there have been no reports in Mexico of the development of thrombosis among people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Mexico to date has received one shipment of 870,000 AstraZeneca shots that were manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Another shipment of more than 1 million doses from India is expected and the government also has an agreement to purchase more than 40 million AstraZeneca doses that will be manufactured in Argentina and bottled here.
López-Gatell asserted that there is no evidence anywhere in the world that links Covid-19 vaccines to serious illnesses or death.
“The European Medicines Agency has already determined that there is no evidence of causal relation between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the phenomenon of thrombosis,” he said.
“… In the whole world including Mexico there is no evidence that links the vaccines against Covid to serious organic impacts that could place life at risk. … The vaccines are safe and effective and they will continue to be used,” López-Gatell said.
Almost 3.8 million vaccine doses had been administered in Mexico by Thursday night and there have only been about 11,000 reports of adverse reactions of which just 71 were considered serious. The death of a 75-year-old woman in Hidalgo after receiving a Sinovac vaccine is not linked to the application of the shot, according to preliminary post-mortem results.
The rollout of vaccines has been fairly slow in Mexico since the government’s vaccination program began on December 24 but picked up pace during the past three days. More than 300,000 vaccines were administered on Tuesday and a new single-day record was set on Wednesday with 360,000 doses given, according to Health Ministry data. At least 208,000 doses were administered on Thursday although the number will likely be revised upward because the figure didn’t count vaccines given after 4:00 p.m.
Mexico is currently in stage 2 of the national vaccination program, having begun the inoculation of people aged 60 and over in the middle of February. Some 2.3 million seniors have received a first dose of one of the four vaccines – the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinovac and Sputnik V shots – that have been used to date in Mexico. More than 800,000 health workers have been vaccinated, and almost 600,000 of them have received both required doses.
The vaccination program got a big boost on Thursday with the arrival of 3 million doses of the single-shot CanSino vaccine from China. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said that vaccination with those doses will begin in the coming days.
Official numbers for coronavirus cases and Covid-19 deaths indicate that the pandemic has receded considerably since January, which was the worst month for both cases and fatalities since the virus was first detected in Mexico over a year ago.
There are currently no red light maximum risk states on the federal government’s coronavirus stoplight map whereas there were 13 in the first half of February.
The risk level in Mexico City, the country’s coronavirus epicenter with almost 600,000 confirmed cases and more than 37,000 deaths, was downgraded to high risk orange in the second half of last month but it has not declined any further.
Government official Eduardo Clark said Friday that the capital will remain at the orange light level next week but casinos and 10-pin bowling centers will be permitted to reopen at 20% capacity starting Monday. Cinemas and theaters will also be allowed to reopen using a maximum of 30% of their available seats.
The federal Health Ministry will present an updated stoplight map at its coronavirus press briefing on Friday night and any changes will take effect on Monday. Mexico’s accumulated case tally is currently 2.15 million while the official Covid-19 death toll is 193,142.