Mexicans Flee From the Cuban Abdala Vaccine and Line Up for the Pfizer

The Pfizer vaccine sold out on its first day of sale in Mexico. (Facebook/The Economist)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 21 December 2023 — “Prevention is better than death,” Raúl Noé Dorantes tells 14ymedio. This Wednesday he was one of the 4,500 people who was able to buy Pfizer’s Corminaty vaccine in the Farmacia San Pablo before it was exhausted . “At my age (78), a certified drug is preferable than than being tested, with Abdala or Sputnik, which are the ones that the Government is giving,” for free in hospitals and public health centers.

Cinthia Martínez, 67, went at 9 in the morning to one of the branches of the same pharmacy, located on Universidad Avenue but was told that she had to go to another one, over 10 miles away. “No matter the time or distance, it’s worth getting vaccinated,” she says.

Martínez says that the dose against seasonal influenza was applied in the Health Sector clinic, but she did not accept “the Abdala vaccine because it is not approved” by the World Health Organization. “When they gave me the Russian (Sputnik), I got sick, and I don’t want to go through the same thing.”

Farmacia San Pablo was the only one of the four pharmacies authorized by the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks that offered the dose of Pfizer against the Omicron XBB 1.5 variant, along with the Spikevax (Monovalent XBB 1.5) from Moderna, which has not yet arrived in Mexico. This Thursday, the franchise indicated that it has 16,000 doses. The pharmacy is now asking those interested in being vaccinated to call the customer service number to find the pharmacy closest to their home.

Esteban Ordorica arrived at 8:30 in the morning at the Tecamachalco branch. “They had me see the doctor, to whom I explained the doses I had and after filling out an authorization form they gave me the vaccine. It didn’t take even ten minutes to get vaccinated. It’s worth the expense of 848 pesos, and they even gave me a card with the drug’s data.”

Four pharmacies were authorized to sell vaccines against COVID-19 from Pfizer and Moderna. (Facebook/The Economist)

The director of operations of Farmacias del Ahorro, Gabriel Zavala, confirmed to 14ymedio that to the extent that the distributor delivers the vaccine to them, people will be able to buy it in one of 400 branches of the 1,800 that they have in the country. On his website he shared a list of 371 locations where one can buy the COVID-19 vaccine for less than 1,000 Mexican pesos.

Faced with the euphoria about the doses of Pfizer, the Government of Mexico City noted that between December 21, 2022 and December 4, 2023, it has applied 562,991 doses of Abdala and that they already have the Sputnik. The Cuban vaccine, he said in a statement dated December 5, is in more than 200 Health Centers to “immunize vulnerable groups: those over 60 years of age, pregnant women, girls and boys from 5 to 17 years of age and over 18 years of age with comorbidities.”

On his social networks he shared images of the venues where several people are observed, but he omitted to point out that the seasonal influenza vaccine is also being given.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador proclaimed last Tuesday that he had fulfilled the responsibility of guaranteeing vaccines against COVID-19 and influenza. “The important thing is that there is a vaccine for the people, for everyone, for the rich and for the poor, and it costs them nothing because in accordance with article 4 of the Constitution, the right to health must be guaranteed. Health is not a privilege; it is a right of the people.”

The Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Ruy López Ridaura, said that 3.8 million doses applied against the coronavirus have been counted since the start of the campaign last October, which represents 18% of the target contemplated. However, he specified that the campaign against influenza has an advance of 53% of the population, 35 million people, and 19 million vaccines have been administered so far.

Módulo de vacunación para aplicar dosis Abdala y contra la influenza en Aguascalientes. (Facebook/¿Que Pasa Aguascalientes?)
Vaccination site to apply Abdala doses against Covid and a vaccine against influenza in Aguascalientes. (Facebook/¿Que Pasa Aguascalientes?)

The doctor, a deputy of the National Action Party, Éctor Jaime Ramírez, insisted to this newspaper that the vaccines offered by the Government “do not work for the current variants” of the coronavirus. He regretted that López Obrador fails to comply with the obligation to “assure that older adults, people with diabetes, with cancer, have a vaccine that works.”

Jaime Ramírez said that the current Administration has 13 billion pesos earmarked for the Vaccination Program. If “that money is not used, it will go to the Maya Train, the Dos Bocas refinery, the Felipe Ángeles International Airport.” He recalled that last year “it had 14.4 billion pesos for the health sector and only used 20%.” This year, a budget of 13 billion pesos was approved for 2024.

“It is striking that they continue to pay in the dark the Government of Cuba and the Government of Russia to buy vaccines that are useless,” says the legislator opposed to López Obrador. “The same will happen with the Mexican vaccine Patria, a project in which almost 1 billion pesos have been invested and is still just a promise. The money was badly invested, because the vaccine is made based on the initial strain; it will be of no use in the face of the new variants.”

Despite the fact that López Obrador indicated in his fifth government report that only 114,008 Abdala vaccines had been applied out of the 9,000,000 that he bought from the Island, in October he acquired another 3,000,000 doses. The Government of Mexico insisted on continuing to favor its partner Cuba, regardless of the fact that thousands of doses have expired and still continue to be used.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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