AstraZeneca: what is known about the distribution in Latin America of the covid-19 vaccine produced between Mexico and Argentina

Latin America

The long wait for what some called “the Latin American vaccine” for covid-19 seems to be coming to an end.

After weeks of delay on the plan of Mexico and Argentina to produce and distribute between 150 and 250 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, both governments confirmed on Tuesday that the first of the vaccine packages will be released over the weekend.

“It is great news. It is to increase production with a combination of efforts from the public sector, the private sector, and that Latin America has production, let’s say, its own: Argentine active substance, bottled and filled in Mexico, access to many countries of Latin America “, highlighted the Mexican Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard.

“It is great news, it is solidarity and it is what we have been demanding in the world, that there be equity, that there be access,” he added.

Nine months ago, both Latin American countries announced the plan to produce and package the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in the region, thanks to funding from the Mexican magnate Carlos Slim’s foundation.

However, the ambitious project presented in its day as a success as a result of the cordial relationship between Mexico and Argentina has faced various problems such as the shortage of some supplies that resulted in delays over the scheduled date to release the vaccines.

How many vaccines will be available?

This Tuesday, however, Ebrard confirmed that it will finally be this week when the first vaccines produced and packaged in Latin America will be distributed.

“We only need the release of AstraZeneca in London which should be this week, that’s what they told us, so that the weekend, finally from August 2020 to May 2021 (…) we can say that the weekend there will be a flight that it will take to Argentina what corresponds to them “, announced Ebrard.

“Mexico will receive 800,000 and Argentina the other 800,000, half and half,” the foreign minister advanced.

According to the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) of Mexico, the four batches that are expected to be released this week contain a total of 3,403,080 doses.

In the second week of June, it is planned to release a batch of almost 895,000 doses (June 7), another two batches of 1,800,000 in total (June 9) and a fourth batch still in production, once the tests are completed. those who undergo vaccines to confirm their safety and efficacy.

“It is expected that between four and six batches can be produced per week,” Cofepris head Alejandro Svarch predicted on Tuesday.

When will they reach the rest of Latin America?

Ebrard said that, after the release this weekend, production and packaging will continue so that the rest of the doses can continue to be distributed in Mexico, Argentina “and also to many Latin American countries that made contracts with AstraZeneca.”

The authorities did not clarify at the moment which countries will be, the number of vaccines that each will receive or on what date.

Last year, Mexico and Argentina announced that the vaccines would be distributed equitably among the interested countries at the request of the governments of the region except Brazil, which made an independent agreement.

“We are being more independent in Mexico, Argentina and Latin America,” said the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, who participated by videoconference in the press conference where the announcement was made in Mexico.

“That agreement that we made (…) what will allow is that Mexicans and Argentines have joined the effort, the joint work, to have vaccines for Mexicans and Argentines, but also for all our Latin American brothers,” he stressed.

“There are no borders, we are together, I would say that in the same cause, seeking the welfare of our peoples,” agreed his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

What caused the delays in the process?

In August 2020, it was announced that the Argentine laboratory mAbxience, of the Insud group, would manufacture the active substance of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Mexican Liomont would be in charge of packaging it, before its distribution to the rest of the region.

Initially, it was said that the doses would be available in the first half of 2021, although later other specific dates were announced that were not met.

Last March, for example, Foreign Minister Ebrard announced that distribution in Mexico and the rest of Latin America – where the second wave of the coronavirus was strongly felt, especially in South America – would begin “from the third week of April.”

Peru doubles deaths from covid-19 after a revision of figures and becomes the country with the highest per capita mortality rate in the world

Latin America

Deaths from covid-19 in Peru are more than double those recorded until now.

Authorities reported this Monday that more than 180,000 people have died from coronavirus in the South American country , which is 2.5 times more than the figure of almost 70,000.

This also ranks Peru as the country with the highest per capita death rate in the world in the pandemic.

The new number is consistent with the so-called “excess deaths,” a measure of how many more people are dying compared to trends in previous years.

The president of the Council of Ministers Violeta Bermúdez indicated that the death toll was reviewed by a council of Peruvian and international experts.

The highest rate in the world

Peru has been one of the countries most affected by the pandemic in Latin America, with a saturated public health system and a crisis due to lack of oxygen tanks.

Until now, deaths from the pandemic have only included the deaths of symptomatic patients with a positive test for COVID-19 .

However, the National Death Information System showed that there was an underestimation of deaths.

In April, the Executive created a panel of experts to review the figures.

With the information as of May 22, the total number of deaths from covid-19 was established at 180,764, a large increase compared to the 69,342 that had been counted.

Neighbors Colombia and Bolivia have registered 88,282 and 14,000 deaths, respectively. In contrast, Brazil has one of the highest death figures in the world, with more than 460,000.

But Peru now has the highest number of deaths from covid-19 in the world in relation to the size of its population , (about 32.5 million): around 500 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Hungary previously had the worst number of deaths per capita with a rate of 300 per 100,000 people.


Waiving IP rights will not boost vaccine production, says pharma group

Latin America

Exempting Covid-19 vaccines from intellectual property rights will not speed up production or distribution of the jabs, a pharmaceutical industry association argued Tuesday.

Proponents of doing away with IP rights say more companies could produce the vaccine, which could then be used in poorer nations that have yet to receive any jabs.

But the head of a pharmaceutical group said Tuesday that managing the complex logistics of rolling out vaccines was what was slowing down jabs, not patents.

“Taking away patents now or imposing a waiver wouldn’t give you a single dose more,” said Thomas Cueni, the head of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).

“It is really about the know-how, it is about the skill set… you still wouldn’t know how to roll them out on a large scale,” he added, speaking at a virtual briefing in Geneva.

His comments come amid a push at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to introduce a temporary IP waiver during the pandemic. The proposal, which was first put forward last year by India and South Africa, has been gaining momentum with the backing of more than 100 countries.

But several nations, including the United States and Switzerland along with the European Union, oppose the move. The opposition means the proposal cannot move forward in the WTO, which makes decisions by consensus.

Jim Robinson, in charge of the Covid vaccine manufacturing strategy at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), warned against waiving vaccine patents.

Pointing to the many people already sceptical about vaccines, he warned that poor-quality or unsafe vaccines by underqualified manufacturers could have devastating consequences.

“We don’t want to stretch so far that we break the system and we do harm,” he said, adding that vaccine production has been much more successful than anticipated.

Some 10 billion doses are expected to be produced this year – double the manufacturing capacity for all vaccines combined in 2019.

But manufacturers have faced a number of supply chain issues and bottlenecks, and there are still “significant gaps” between the expected output and the current manufacturing capacity, Cueni said.

Leftist Arauz, conservative Lasso advance to Ecuador presidential run-off

América Latina

Leftist economist Andrés Arauz will face conservative Guillermo Lasso in the upcoming second round of Ecuador’s presidential election, officials confirmed Sunday. Third-place finisher, indigenous leader Yaku Pérez, vows to appeal.

Thirty-six-year-old Arauz won the first round with 32.72 percent of the vote – not enough to win outright. His opponent in the second round will be ex-banker Lasso, who took 19.74 percent to beat left-wing indigenous leader Yaku Pérez’s 19.39 percent, according to the final results of the February 7 poll.

The run-off will take place on April 11, after the first round results were approved by four out of the five members of the National Electoral Council (CNE) at a meeting that lasted into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Pérez, however, said he would appeal. He last week submitted a request for a recount in 17 of the country’s 24 provinces, but that secondary tally was suspended Wednesday.

“We’re going to challenge thousands of votes,” Pérez, a 51-year-old environmental lawyer, said Sunday, before joining indigenous people and supporters marching on the capital Quito.

He has alleged there was fraud to keep him out of the run-off after he was narrowly displaced by Lasso from second to third place in the middle of the count.

“This resistence continues in the legal, judicial, social and political fields,” said Pérez, adding that “we cannot allow electoral fraud to remain unpunished.”

The marchers, who left last Wednesday from close to the southern border with Peru, are expected to arrive in Quito on Tuesday.

“Rivers of people will arrive, rivers of our hearts to say that our vote is worth defending, our vote must not be stolen. We need to recover the votes,” Pérez said.

Lasso, who last week supported Pérez’s call for a partial recount, has already started looking forward to the next round.

“Today democracy has triumphed, we are going with courage and optimism to this second round,” Lasso said in a statement following the announcement.

Incumbent President Lenín Moreno, whose term in office ends on May 24, did not seek re-election.

President Fernández arrives in Mexico for talks on business, vaccines

América Latina

Alberto Fernández landed in Mexico City today for an official visit geared towards “strengthening commercial ties” between two countries. President set to meet Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, billionaire businessman Carlos Slim and visit an AstraZeneca vaccine laboratory.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard was on hand to welcome President Fernández and his entourage as they arrived at Mexico City airport.

Government sources said that “for sanitary reasons” the president had travelled on a private charter flight, rather than take a normal plane. He was accompanied by First Lady Fabiola Yañez; Secretary General to the Presidency Julio Vitobello and the Communications and Press Secretary Juan Pablo Biondi.

Foreign Minister Felipe Solá; Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, Deputy Cabinet Chief Cecilia Todesca, Secretary for Strategic Affairs Gustavo Beliz and presidential advisor Ricardo Forster also made the trip, which has the stated aim of “strengthening commercial ties” between the two countries.

Two government-aligned lawmakers who were also set to travel with the president, Senator Jorge Taiana and Deputy Eduardo Valdés, were taken off the flight list after it emerged that they had been vaccinated ahead of schedule in the so-called ‘VIP vaccination’ scandal that broke over the weekend.

“I want to welcome the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, who arrived very early today,” said López Obrador at the beginning of his morning press conference, confirming the Argentine leader’s arrival.

López Obrador’s will host an official welcome on Tuesday. Afterwards, the Peronist leader will attend López Obrador’s morning conference, then join him in a working breakfast.

Packed schedule

Fernández has a packed schedule, which started Monday morning with a meeting in the Hotel InterContinental Presidente with Mexican businessmen who have investments in Argentina.

The president will then visit the Liomont laboratory where the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine is being produced, in co-production with Argentina, touring various rooms including the refrigeration chambers holding the shot’s main active ingredient, which was sent to Mexico in January by the local laboratory mAbxience .

Mexico and Argentina plan to co-produce around 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab to meet the demand in Latin America.

On Tuesday after his official welcome, Fernández will meet with Carlos Slim — the billionaire Mexican telecommunications tycoon who has provided resources for the production of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Later that evening, he will attend a meeting at the Argentine Embassy with a host of “intellectuals and cultural leaders.”

The following day, Fernández will go to the state of Guerrero for a ceremony commemorating 200 years of Mexican independence, where he will be in attendance as the special guest of López Obrador.

“Having been invited by his Mexican counterpart, Fernández will be one of the speakers at the ceremony, which will take place at the Cerro del Tehuehue” in Iguala, the Presidency confirmed in a statement.

Oil giant Petrobras sheds US$19 billion in value over two days

Latin America

A sell-off in Brazil’s state-controlled oil firm Petrobras picked up on Monday after a group of analysts downgraded the stock within 24 hours, following Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to replace the company’s chief executive officer.

Bradesco BBI, BTG Pactual, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, Nau Securities, Santander, Scotiabank and XP Investimentos cut their ratings on the shares after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday decided to fire the oil company’s CEO following a spat over hikes in fuel prices and moved to appoint Joaquim Silva e Luna, a former Army general, as a replacement. Company’s board still needs to confirm the decision.

Shares in Petrobras tumbled in Sao Paulo, erasing about 102.5 billion reais (US$18.8 billion) in market value in the past two sessions. The company’s American Depositary Receipts fell 21 percent in New York.

Investors are concerned the hasty appointment of a new CEO may signal a potential shift away from market-friendly policies. The oil company’s discount to global peers is expected to widen and the sale of its refineries could also face delays as a result, hindering deleveraging plans, analysts said.

“Fundamentals are unlikely to be the main driver of the stock in the near term,” Morgan Stanley analysts led by Bruno Montanari wrote in a report dated February 21, moving the stock to not-rated from overweight. “We will have to weigh the role of a much increased risk perception in the sector, the country, and PBR specifically.”


The price of soybeans surpassed US $ 500 in Chicago and reached its highest value since 2014

Latin America


The main causes for this rise, which reached 2014 values, are the tight global supply and the lack of rainfall in Argentina. By-products of soybeans, such as oil and flour, accompanied the positive trend.

The price of soybeans finally exceeded US $ 500 in the Chicago Market and closed the day at US $ 501.64, an increase of US $ 5.60 compared to the day before, reaching its highest value of the last six and a half years.

In this way, the price of the oilseed maintains the upward trend that began more than five months ago, in which it accumulated a 55% increase in its price -adding more than US $ 178.62- and around 40% at the same time. throughout 2020 .

Indeed, at the beginning of the day, soybeans reached values ​​above US $ 505, reaching its highest price since July 2014.

With the passage of hours, it began to trade for US $ 503.94 and finally closed the day at US $ $ 501.64.

The Rosario Stock Exchange (BCR) indicated that the fundamentals of the rise again lay in “concerns regarding global supply as the lack of rainfall is noted in the main producing regions of South America, particularly in Argentina” and Brazil.

Speaking to Télam, the analyst of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange (BCBA), Juan Pablo Giana, said that “the world market and, in particular, the United States are with the lowest stocks since 2013 to a great extent due to the strong Chinese presence that has been recovering economically and demand to supply its pig production “.

“Whenever the dollar weakens, US exports become more competitive. In addition, it makes hedge funds position themselves as buyers in the market, increasing the variability of the price increase,” added Giana.

In coincidence, the head of the Market Analysis Department of Grassi SA, Ariel Tejera, observed that “the revaluation of assets and commodities works as a counterpart to the loss of value” of the US currency.

The upward rally of the oilseed began at the end of August last year and, despite some intervals, has continued to date.

Indeed, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic at the end of March occurred in a context in which the global economy was already plunged into a deep crisis, which also determined that the commodity markets were hit by uncertainty and the fall of the activity.

In this framework, from March to August, the price of soybeans was within a range of between US $ 300 and US $ 320 per ton and then began to rise with the rebound in world activity.

In this way, in the last five months the price of the oilseed grew by 55% (US $ 178.62), if one takes into account that on August 6 of last year, the closest position of soybeans closed to the US. $ 323.62.

If the positive dynamics continue, it would be good news for Argentina in general – since it would increase the inflow of foreign exchange – and for the agro-export complex in particular.

Due to the rise in commodity prices, in 2021 the Argentine agribusiness sector will contribute foreign exchange for about US $ 31.1 billion, US $ 4.6 billion more than this year (17%), according to a report by the Mediterranean Foundation.

In this regard, Giana pointed out that for the country “the immediate positive impact would be related to higher foreign exchange income, higher collection (mostly due to export duties, but more value added from the chain is also generated and increased collection due to other taxes). “.

“It also generates an increase in the margin for producers, if it is sustained over time,” said Giana, estimating that the upward trend will continue in the short term, which will allow greater investment possibilities for the coming season.

“The only factor that could correct in the short term would be movements of hedge funds, sudden sales to recover profits. However, the world supply is limited and for this to be corrected we must wait for the next campaign,” concluded the analyst of the BCBA.

Tejera agreed that the global scenario is likely to remain that way due to strong demand from China, but was cautious about local production, warning that “the South American supply is not in optimal conditions.”

“The climate is one of the main questions, leaving an open end to the volume that will finally be contributed by Argentina and Brazil,” the specialist completed.

Meanwhile, in the local market of the Rosario Stock Exchange, contractual soybeans closed with a rise of $ 5 to reach $ 29,225, thus continuing the upward trend of recent weeks.

Finally, the president of the Argentine Soybean Chain Association (Acsoja), Luis Zubizarreta, told Télam that the strong rise in soybeans “is an opportunity for Argentina but it is also a consequence of the dry climate and what is important to be able to To take advantage of prices is to have a good production and therefore that it rains “.

“We have to increase production by removing some disincentives that currently exist that do not allow us to take full advantage of this favorable situation, we have stagnant production 10 years ago, while Brazil had a significant increase in the same period,” added the business leader.

“It is time to increase production, add value and export more to generate more quality employment,” concluded Zubizarreta.

Congress finally certified Biden’s electoral victory

Latin America


Republican Vice President Mike Pence certified the vote of 306 large voters in favor of the Democratic candidate, compared to 232 for Trump.

The United States Congress ratified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election, after violent protesters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to reverse the election result, undermine the country’s democracy and allow the outgoing Republican president, Donald Trump , still in the White House.

With the country still shaken by the riots, which left four dead, Republican Vice President Mike Pence certified the vote of 306 voters in favor of the Democratic candidate, compared to 232 for Trump.

After the chaos sown on Wednesday by the supporters of the outgoing president for hours until they were evicted by the police, the legislators decided to continue on Wednesday night with the process of validating the elections, in a sample for the country and the world of their commitment with the will of the voters and a peaceful transfer of power.
The process was carried out with the nation on alert and the city of Washington under an unusual curfew decreed after the riots, which left four dead.

Trump, who has refused to accept his defeat, said in a statement immediately after the vote that there will be an orderly transition on the day of Biden’s inauguration, January 20,

“Although I strongly disagree with the outcome of this election. and the facts support me, there will be a transition in order on January 20, “he said in a statement, the AFP news agency reported.

“This represents the end of one of the best first presidential terms and it is just the beginning of our fight to restore America to its greatness,” he added.
The ratification came after a day with few precedents in US political history, with the Capitol besieged by Trump supporters and lawmakers seeking refuge under desks and protected by gas masks as police tried to erect barricades around the building. congressional.

A woman died after being shot in the chest inside the Capitol and three other people died in the vicinity of Congress from “medical emergencies,” police said.
The protest was called and encouraged by Trump himself, who for weeks has been making false complaints about the transparency of the November 3 elections, in which he was defeated by Biden.

The session was already extraordinary due to the fact that several Republican legislators were raising objections to the results when the procedure had to be interrupted by the violent irruption of Trump supporters.

Both the protests and the objections of Republican lawmakers constituted an unthinkable challenge to democratic principles and exposed the deep divisions in the United States, which worsened dramatically during Trump’s four years in the White House.
Congress reconvened at nightfall, amid condemnations of protests by legislators from both parties and determined to certify Biden’s triumph, even if it took all night.
Pence reopened the procedure in the Senate addressing the protesters directly: “You did not win,” he said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the “failed insurrection” underscored the duty of Congress to confirm Biden’s victory.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, said Congress must show the world “what America is made of” and complete its certification work.
The outgoing president emboldened his supporters hours before the violence with a morning rally outside the White House where he urged them to march to the Capitol.
At the request of his advisers and from the Oval Room of the White House, Trump issued a couple of tweets and recorded a video in which he asked the protesters to “go home in peace”, although he also supported their cause.
Grim-faced, President-elect Biden said the country’s democracy was “under unprecedented assault,” a sentiment echoed by numerous lawmakers in Congress.
The dead woman was part of the crowd that stormed Congress and broke through a barricade that protected a room where armed police officers were present, police said.
She was shot in the chest by Capitol agents and taken to a hospital where she died. Three other people, a woman and two men, died around the Capitol “due to medical emergencies.”



The European Union will start vaccinating on December 27

Latin America

The EU intends to carry out a coordinated vaccination program in its 27 Member States to ensure fair access to doses.

The European Union (EU) vaccination campaign against the coronavirus will begin on December 27, 28 and 29, announced the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

“It is time for Europe. On December 27, 28 and 29 vaccination will begin in the EU,” the head of the EU Executive wrote on her Twitter account.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) plans to meet on the 21st to evaluate the vaccine from the Pfizer-BioNTech laboratories. The Commission will then give its approval to start the campaign.

The United Kingdom and the United States are already immunizing people with this vaccine under national emergency authorizations.

The EU intends to carry out a coordinated vaccination program in its 27 Member States to ensure fair access to doses.

The European Commission signed contracts with seven potential vaccine providers, to ensure that all adult EU citizens can finally be immunized.

Member states will decide who has priority, but the elderly and healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients will be in front.

The vaccine developed by the US giant Pfizer and the German company BioNTech was shown to be 95% effective in worldwide trials in which two doses are injected three weeks apart.

In Europe, that vaccine is produced at a Pfizer facility in Belgium and shipped on trucks and planes.

It must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit) to keep it viable, but can be transported for short periods at 2-8 degrees Celsius.

La embajada Argentina en China ratifica la propuesta de las granjas de producción porcina

América Latina

El Representante Especial para la Promoción del Comercio y de las Inversiones en China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, aseguró: “Nuestra propuesta promueve la instalación de granjas inteligentes, que son seguras, sostenibles y sustentables”.

El Representante Especial para la Promoción del Comercio y de las Inversiones en China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, mantuvo un encuentro con directivos de la empresa estatal China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG), en la que ratificó la propuesta argentina de instalar granjas inteligentes de producción porcina en el país.
“Las granjas inteligentes son seguras y sustentables ya que la bioseguridad es un punto fundamental de su gestión, con el foco en la preservación, conservación y protección de los recursos naturales para el beneficio de las generaciones”, agregó el funcionario luego de la reunión que mantuvo con directivos de la empresa estatal China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG), dedicada a la industria agrícola y ganadera.

El funcionario argentino visitó las oficinas de la empresa en la ciudad de Beijing, donde mantuvo un encuentro con el presidente de la firma, Xue Tingwu, y la mesa directiva de la compañía.

El objetivo del encuentro fue analizar diversos proyectos de inversión en producción porcina, que contemplan el cuidado del medio ambiente y que se enmarcan dentro de una estrategia integral, que requiere de la superación de falsas dicotomías, incluyendo a los pequeños y grandes productores, ofreciendo alternativas de pre-financiamiento de exportaciones para aquellos grandes productores que no evalúen asociarse con capitales chinos y joint-ventures con capitales chinos para aquellos productores que así lo requieran.

“Este proyecto estima importantes beneficios económicos para el país. Por un lado incrementa el ingreso de divisas, con exportaciones de mayor valor agregado, y por otro, genera puestos de trabajos con mayor calificación. En paralelo, aumentará el cultivo del maíz, lo que podría reducir la tendencia al monocultivo de la soja”, dijo Vaca Narvaja a Télam.

“Igualmente, estas acciones se enmarcan dentro de una estrategia integral de cooperación estratégica entre ambos países, donde hay que aprovechar en las oportunidades que brinda el ingreso al Banco Asiático de Inversiones en Infraestructura, la Iniciativa de la Franja y la Ruta y la internacionalización del renminbi (RMB)”, agregó Vaca Narvaja.

La reunión del representante argentino en Beijing se suman a las declaraciones formuladas durante la víspera por el ministro de Desarrollo Productivo, Matías Kulfas, quien aseguró que “sigue en pie” el desarrollo de granjas porcinas.

El ministro también enfatizó que la iniciativa se debe desarrollar en “óptimas condiciones ambientales”.