MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico is in talks with the Chinese government and private Chinese laboratories, as well as the University of Oxford and company AstraZeneca about running trials for experimental COVID-19 vaccines, a senior Mexican official said on Monday.
More than 100 vaccines against the novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and ravaged the global economy, are now being developed and tested by various teams around the world.
Martha Delgado, a Mexican deputy foreign minister, told Reuters the government was seeking to collaborate with different countries and laboratories that are working on experimental vaccines.
Delgado said no decision has been made so far, and she did not elaborate on what the collaborations could entail. Four Mexican teams have joined the vaccine race.
“We’ve had conversations with the people who are developing the vaccine at the University of Oxford and also directly with AstraZeneca,” Delgado said. “We’ve had conversations with laboratories and the Chinese government.”
The University of Oxford, AstraZeneca and the Chinese embassy in Mexico City were not immediately available for comment.
Esther Orozco, who leads the research efforts in Mexico, said the race among Mexican researchers will continue even if other countries beat them to the first vaccine.
“It won’t be easy and one vaccine will not cover the necessities of everyone,” she said. “Mexico can’t wait for another country, no matter how advanced.”
There is broad agreement among scientists that a vaccine is essential to ending the pandemic. Still, running large-scale clinical trials of potential vaccines against a completely new disease at speed is complex.
A key task for scientists is to chase fluctuating outbreaks and seek volunteers in sections of populations or in countries where the disease is still rife.
Delgado said Mexico was also exploring what role it could carve out on the purchase, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines. “Right now we are simply mapping capabilities to know how much Mexico could do,” she said.
Transmission rates of the coronavirus are on the rise in Mexico and most other Latin American countries.
Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Aurora Ellis, Leslie Adler and Tom Brown