Russia's coronavirus vaccine approved for use in Mexico
Mexico approved the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V for use on Tuesday, just hours after the publication of early results of an advanced study saying it is about 91 percent effective. Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell, said, "The Health Ministry signed a contract on Monday for 400,000 doses of Sputnik V that will arrive this month."
Mexico has already approved Pfizer and AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines
The Russian vaccine would become the third to receive emergency approval in Mexico. The regulating agency approved the Pfizer vaccine in December and AstraZeneca's in January. Mexico turned to the Russian vaccine following delays in obtaining others it was counting on.
159,500 test-confirmed deaths; real toll placed well over 195,000
López-Gatell said, "That is still a tiny amount for Mexico's 126 million people. Mexico has been hit so hard with COVID-19 infections that hospitals in the capital were 87% full, and ambulance drivers waited hours to find an open bed for patients. Mexico has reported about 159,500 test-confirmed deaths related to COVID-19, but excess-death estimates place the real toll at well over 195,000.
Ambulances are waiting 3-4 hours before a hospital is assigned
The Chief of Ambulance Crew, Eduardo Vigueras said, "Unfortunately, because of the saturation of the hospitals and the phone lines, we are waiting about three or four hours before they can assign us a hospital and to get there." Vigueras noted that patients are sometimes sent to the only available beds at hospitals, far away from the overwhelmed east side borough of Iztapalapa.
Some families make an even harder choice
Paramedics say that a lot of times a seriously-ill patient's loved ones cancel the emergency call because they know treatment is in such short supply. Paramedic Paulina Cervantes said, "A lot of people prefer to keep their relative at home, knowing that they are going to die, but with their loved ones there for the last few minutes, hours, days."
Website to register for the vaccine was quickly overwhelmed
On Tuesday, the Mexican Government launched a new website for people over age 60 years to register for appointments to get vaccines that the country doesn't yet have. Cervantes said, "So many people logged on that the Health Department apparently didn't have the bandwidth to handle requests." The department's website was quickly overwhelmed and the registration page didn't load.
Legitimate concern among Mexicans regarding the Russian vaccine: López-Gatell
A dozen countries have already approved the Russian vaccine for use, including Bolivia and Argentina, where López-Gatell paid a visit in January to learn more about it. He acknowledged that there had been a legitimate concern among Mexicans, but that the early results published on Tuesday in the medical journal The Lancet should alleviate them.
Sputnik V vaccine is safe, has 92 percent efficacy: López-Gatell
López-Gatell said, "The Russian Sputnik V vaccine is safe, it has 92 percent efficacy against COVID-19, it can be used safely and is effective in seniors. It allows us now to accelerate the step of vaccination against COVID-19 in Mexico."
Mexico has given about 675,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Earlier, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a week ago. Mexico has so far given about 675,000 doses of vaccine, all of them from Pfizer. On Tuesday, a second batch of the active substance in the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Mexico, where it will be packed and distributed through the rest of Latin America.