Lopez Obrador to Virtually Meet Biden and Request Vaccine ‘Loan’ | Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador News
United States President Joe Biden is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting with his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday to include “cooperation on migration, joint development efforts in southern Mexico and Central America, resumption of COVID-19 and economic cooperation, ”according to a White House statement.
Speaking at his daily press conference on Monday, Lopez Obrador said the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 185,000 Mexicans – the third highest death toll in the world, was going to be the main focus.
“What we are looking for is to maintain a relationship of cooperation and friendship – a policy of good neighborliness,” he said. “Consequently, the subjects [of the meeting] are COVID, it’s important to us, and most importantly, the vaccine. “
Quoting an anonymous Mexican official, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday that Lopez Obrador is expected to ask Biden to share his vaccine supply with Mexico.
According to the report, Lopez Obrador will ask the United States for a loan of their vaccine supplies, which will be repaid when Mexico receives the vaccine shipments it has contracts for, which are expected to arrive later this year.
On Monday, Lopez Obrador hinted that he had already made the request, without specifying when. On January 30, Mexican media outlet Proceso reported that Lopez Obrador asked Biden for vaccines during a phone call, shortly after Biden took office.
“We want to receive a response to a request that we made,” Lopez Obrador said in response to a question from a reporter on Monday, “and if President Biden considered it, that he could give us an answer on vaccination. during our meeting. “
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that President Biden was not considering loaning vaccines to Mexico.
“The president has made it clear that he is focused on ensuring that vaccines are accessible to all Americans,” she said.
When this was achieved, Psaki said “we are happy to discuss other steps beyond this.”
Mexico has so far received the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccines which it has used to immunize some of its frontline workers and the elderly.
Mexico has an agreement to produce and package 35 million doses of the Chinese CanSino vaccine this year. The first batch of two million doses will be ready in the second half of this month, the company said on Sunday.
And the vaccination campaign that was rolled out in late December was hampered by shipping delays from Pfizer, which Mexico initially relied on as the main source, forcing the country to scramble to fill the void of other manufacturers of drugs.
According to Our World in Data from the University of Oxford, 1.9 million Mexicans have been vaccinated, or less than 2% of the population, nearly 130 million, regionally lagging behind Brazil and Chile, and much behind the United States.
An unnamed US official told Reuters that although Biden’s focus on “getting hit in the arms” of Americans, the United States recognizes the need to help its neighbors – because national borders cannot protect them from the pandemic.
With the U.S. vaccination campaign currently stable but still a long way from fully reopening the economy, it seems unlikely that Biden will be able to share U.S. supplies with other countries.
Adding to Mexico’s pandemic woes, the country’s coronavirus czar was hospitalized last week after contracting COVID-19.
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, an ally of Lopez Obrador, was taken to hospital after suffering “moderate” symptoms and needing oxygen, a health official said. At a press conference on Sunday, Ruy Lopez Ridaura, national director of disease prevention and control, said Lopez-Gatell was “recovering well”.
Lopez Obrador said Monday’s meeting with Biden will also focus on immigration, security, climate change and the trade deal between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Mexico had strained relations with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
But Lopez Obrador, a left-wing leader, still managed to forge a mutually beneficial partnership with Trump, including agreeing to stem immigration from Central America to the US-Mexico border.
Since taking office on January 20, Biden has rescinded Trump-era immigration policies, including building a border wall along the southern border of the United States, limiting asylum in the United States. and speeding up evictions.