As we reported in August last year, AstraZeneca struck an agreement with Mexico and Argentina to produce between 150 million and 250 million doses of the Oxford/AZ COVID-19 vaccine in Latin America.
mAbxience (part of Grupo Insud, Argentina) is to produce the vaccine and Laboratorios Liomont, S.A. (Mexico) will package and distribute the vaccine across the region (excl. Brazil), with the financial backing of the Carlos Slim Foundation.
As the global vaccination drive gathers speed, we check in on how this initiative is progressing. A former health official under President Macri told us, “As far as we know, the production process is within the expected time range. The first batch has already been shipped to Mexico for fractionation. I understand that for the next 4 or 5 months mAbxience will ship about 30 million doses per month.”
“The first batch has already been shipped to Mexico for fractionation. I understand that for the next 4 or 5 months mAbxience will ship about 30 million doses per month.”
Former health official, Argentina
A pharmaceutical executive with knowledge of the programme commented, “The deadlines are being met and shipments will continue to be made within expected deadlines. By the middle of the year, the first stage will be complete under which mAbxcience will manufacture 180 million doses of the active principle, of which 22 million will return for roll out. We are talking about an extension to the agreement, based upon the good level of compliance we have achieved so far.”
“We are talking about an extension to the agreement, based upon the good level of compliance we have achieved so far.”
Pharmaceutical executive, Argentina
Logistics is the main challenge highlighted by our sources. The pharmaceutical executive explains, “Logistics is a concern, it isn’t a problem in production of the active principle, its fractionation or distribution at a macro level. The challenge comes when you try to reach the last mile of fairly inaccessible places. I don’t know how they plan to solve that. In Argentina it will be the responsibility of the provinces, not the central government.”
Argentina, with little financial resource, is pinning its hopes on the Oxford/AZ and Sputnik V vaccines. If these are not successful, at present, there is no backup plan. The executive warns, “If these vaccines do not go well, it will be a big problem at the political level. Alternatively, if it goes well, the government will undoubtedly try to claim it as their success.” Pretty much the same as every politician in the world right now then?