After 3-Month Delay, Mexico To Start Shipping Vaccine

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico said Wednesday it expects to finally start shipping AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from a private fill-and-finish plant by the end of May, after a delay of nearly three months.

The vaccine is produced in Argentina, but the active ingredient is shipped to Mexico to be mixed and bottled.

Mexico, Argentina and other countries in Latin America were expecting millions of doses to start flowing in March, but probably won’t begin getting them until June.

Mexico’s top diplomat said Wednesday that the Liomont plant had problems getting in special filters and other equipment.

“They have fought a lot to obtain filters, inspection stations. They brought in very advanced equipment. That took time to be able to get them working,” Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said during a visit to the plant.

Ebrard said the first lots should be ready May 24 or 25 and would be shipped domestically as well as to Argentina and other countries in Latin America, one of the regions worst hit by the pandemic.

Previously, Ebrard had said there had been delays “for various reasons” in bottling the AstraZeneca doses in Mexico. The project is supported by a foundation run by business magnate Carlos Slim.

In February, Mexican officials had said they expected to get 10 million AstraZeneca doses in March, 15.7 million in April and the same number in May, for a total of 41.1 million shots. Instead, by May 18, Mexico had received only about 4.6 million AstraZeneca doses from abroad.

Mexico already bottles the Chinese-developed CanSino vaccine at another plant, a process that went off with fewer hitches.