Mexico shipped more than a million AstraZeneca vaccines to Argentina, Belize, Bolivia and Paraguay over the weekend in the first batch of locally-produced shots.
Around 811,000 shots were sent to Argentina, while Bolivia and Paraguay received 150,000 each and Belize 100,000, the Mexican Foreign Ministry tweeted on Saturday.
The shots are the first of the up to 250 million doses that Mexico and Argentina pledged to produce locally for neighbours with the backing of billionaire Carlos Slim’s foundation.
The vaccines had been expected in the first quarter of the year but ran into production and certification delays in Mexico. The shipments are one of the first signs of vaccine diplomacy in the region after Chile donated 40,000 Sinovac shots to Paraguay and Ecuador in March.
“Today we begin shipping AstraZeneca vaccines that Mexico is contributing as president of CELAC to Latin America and Caribbean nations,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted June 12, referencing the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. “In this occasion, they’re going to Belize, Bolivia and Paraguay. In the coming days, they’ll go to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.”
Under the agreement, biotechnology company mAbxience produced the active substance in Argentina, while Liomont Laboratories completed the formulation in Mexico.
Liomont has so far produced the first 1.6 million shots, a Mexican official said last week, half of which will remain in Mexico and the rest will be shipped to neighbouring countries.