United States President Joe Biden will 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, COVID-19 Recovery and Economic Cooperation” to a White House statement.
During his daily press conference on Monday, Lopez Obrador said the focus will be on the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 185,000 Mexicans – the third highest death toll in the world.
“What we are looking for is maintaining a relationship of cooperation and friendship – a policy of good neighborliness,” he said. “Hence the topics [of the meeting] are COVID, that is important to us and especially the vaccine. “
A health worker showing a person a vial of the Sputnik-V vaccine during a mass vaccination in Mexico City, Mexico [Carlos Jasso/Reuters]Citing an unnamed Mexican official, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday that Lopez Obrador is expected to urge Biden to share his vaccine supply with Mexico.
According to the report, Lopez Obrador will seek a US loan on its vaccine supplies to be repaid if Mexico receives supplies of vaccines for which it has contracts expected to arrive later this year.
On Monday, Lopez Obrador hinted that he had already made the request without specifying when. On January 30, the Mexican media company Proceso reported that Lopez Obrador had asked Biden for vaccines during a telephone conversation shortly after he took office.
“We would like to receive an answer to a request we have made,” Lopez Obrador replied on Monday to a question from a journalist. “And if President Biden would consider that, he could give us an answer on vaccination during our meeting.”
To date, Mexico has received Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccines, which have been used to vaccinate some of its frontline workers and the elderly.
Mexico has reached an agreement to manufacture and package 35 million doses of the Chinese CanSino vaccine this year. The first batch of two million cans will be ready in the second half of this month, the company said on Sunday.
And the vaccination campaign, which began in late December, was marked by late shipments from Pfizer, which Mexico originally relied on as a primary source, forcing the country to strive to close the gap with other drug makers.
According to Oxford University’s Our World in Data, 1.9 million Mexicans have been vaccinated, less than 2 percent of the population, nearly 130 million regionally lagging Brazil and Chile and well below the US.
An unnamed US official told Reuters that while Biden is focused on “nudging” Americans, the US recognizes the need to help its neighbors – as national borders cannot protect them from the pandemic.
With the US vaccination campaign currently stable but still far from being able to fully reopen the economy, it is unlikely that Biden will be able to share US supplies with other nations.
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, an ally of Lopez Obrador, was rushed to hospital after suffering from “moderate” symptoms and needing oxygen, a health official said [File: Edgard Garrido/Reuters]In addition to Mexico’s pandemic problems, the nation’s coronavirus tsar was hospitalized last week after contracting COVID-19.
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, an ally of Lopez Obrador, was hospitalized after suffering from “moderate” symptoms and needing oxygen, a health official said. In a press conference on Sunday, Ruy Lopez Ridaura, the country’s director of disease prevention and control, said Lopez-Gatell had “recovered well”.
Lopez Obrador said Monday’s meeting with Biden will also look at immigration, security, climate change and the trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico.
Mexico had a strained relationship with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist leader, nonetheless managed to forge a mutually beneficial partnership with Trump, including agreeing to curb immigration from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Since taking office on Jan. 20, Biden has reversed Trump-era immigration policies, including building a border wall along the U.S. southern border, limiting asylum in the U.S. and accelerating deportations.