Mexico faces challenge

Last week the Mexican government announced that its inoculation program - one of the most ambitious in Latin America - had essentially come to a standstill. The country of 128 million people has received just 766,350 doses of vaccine, all produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.
That figure was supposed to hit 1.5 million by the end of the month. Mexican officials have described the delay as a minor setback and said shipments from Pfizer are expected to resume Feb. 15. 2021. “It is simply going to be temporarily postponed,” said Mexico’s undersecretary of health, Dr. Hugo López-Gatell, who is leading the nation’s pandemic response.
Officials here said they have already made deals to purchase enough vaccine to inoculate the entire country. They have signed agreements with Pfizer, China’s CanSino Biologics and the British company AstraZeneca to purchase enough vaccine for 128 million people. They are also trying to line up enough of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia for 12 million more. 


In November, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, urged Mexico’s leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens, saying that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic. A new set of rules requiring all travelers entering the US by sea, air or land to show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test and self-quarantine or self-isolate after entry.

The executive action also instructs federal officials to work with the governments of Mexico and Canada to draw up a coordinated plan for border crossings. Until now, Mexico has also been a world outlier in refusing to implement restrictions on international air passengers, as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pushes a light-touch response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, hospitals have been overwhelmed by surging case numbers, and this week Mexico set two daily coronavirus death records.
The new US rules – and similar measures introduced this month by Canada – may finally nudge Mexican policymakers to embrace the science – or face a loss of tourism and international mobility.