Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador thanked his US counterpart Joe Biden on Friday for agreeing to loan Mexico 2.7 million COVID-19 vaccines to help offset a shortfall in its inoculation drive.
Lopez Obrador told a news briefing that the United States will send slightly more than the 2.5 million doses US officials had previously indicated of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
“The US government has decided to help us and send 2.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Lopez Obrador said in the eastern state of Veracruz, noting the deal was reached on good terms for Mexico and that he hoped the vaccines would be arriving from next week.
“I especially thank President Biden because I discussed this issue with him two months ago, when we had a telephone conversation.”
Due to delays in promised deliveries, Mexico has scrambled to obtain enough vaccines for its inoculation plans, leaning increasingly on Russia and China to secure doses.
Lopez Obrador also asked Biden to loan him vaccines, especially AstraZeneca’s, which has not been authorised for use in the US.
Ahead of a bilateral meeting earlier in March, the White House said it would not loan Mexico or any other country vaccines because it was focused on its own vaccination campaign.
But on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the deal, saying “the pandemic knows no borders and ensuring our neighbours can contain the virus is a mission critical to ending the pandemic”.
Officials announced the deal just as Mexico said it would restrict travel on its southern border with Guatemala to curb the spread of COVID-19, dovetailing with efforts to contain a surge in US-bound immigration from Central America.
Mexican and US officials said the two steps were not a quid pro quo, but foreign policy experts noted that the agreements suited both governments.
Lopez Obrador said in return for the vaccines, Mexico would give the US what it had “always” given, namely “friendship and cooperation across all spheres”.
“What are we going to give in return? What we have always given: friendship and cooperation across all spheres,” he said. “It is very important that we maintain that with the US government.”
Lopez Obrador added that the vaccines would help Mexico reach its goal of inoculating its population of 126 million, beginning with a first shot for all people above 60 by the end of April.