Lopez Obrador shifts gears, now says he won’t get COVID-19 jab

The Mexican president says blood tests show he has antibodies in his system from the time he contracted the virus.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appears to have switched course from last week when he said he would be taking the vaccine as a precaution [File: Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

In a reversal from comments made last week, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he would not be taking the coronavirus vaccine, arguing that he still has sufficient levels of antibodies in his system following his bout with the virus earlier this year.

Speaking during his daily news conference, Lopez Obrador said test results show that it would be unnecessary for him to take the vaccine.

“They (doctors) reviewed my results and came to the conclusion that I have enough antibodies and that it is not essential for me to get vaccinated for now.”

He added that he would invite the doctors who treated him to come speak at his daily news conference on Tuesday, in order to avoid any “speculation”.

Lopez Obrador, 67, contracted the virus in January. He isolated for two weeks in the National Palace. The leader, who has a history of heart disease and blood pressure, said he only suffered from mild symptoms including a low-grade fever.

In the following weeks, he repeatedly said he would not be taking the vaccine, citing tests that showed he had antibodies.

On Wednesday, however, Lopez Obrador announced that he would be getting the COVID-19 vaccine the following week, as a precaution, based on his doctor’s advice. He said he would not let the media know at which vaccination site he would receive it, saying he did not want to make “a spectacle” out of it.

Lopez Obrador has come under criticism for mishandling the pandemic and downplaying the threats of the disease. Even after contracting the virus, he was often seen in public without a mask.

Mexico has been one of the hardest hit countries in the region. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 204,000 Mexicans have died from the disease, the third highest tally in the world. Recently, the government said the number is likely much higher.

The first doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine provided by the US government arriving at Benito Juarez International airport in Mexico City, Mexico [File: Mahe Elipe/Reuters]

Mexico, a nation of 126 million, rolled out its vaccination campaign in December, but the effort was stalled by delayed shipments and high demand for doses. The nation has since sourced vaccines from several countries including the United States, India, Russia and China. The US recently “loaned” Mexico 2.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, boosting its supply.

Mexico is currently vaccinating its elderly population in mass vaccination sites set up across the country. Lopez Obrador has set the goal to have most senior citizens receive at least one shot by the end of April.

According to Our World in Data, 6 percent of the population has been vaccinated so far, trailing behind Brazil and Chile.

Source: Al Jazeera