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UPDATE 1-AstraZeneca vaccines sent to Mexico from Baltimore plant safe - deputy health minister

(Adds full quote from deputy health minister)

MEXICO CITY, April 23 (Reuters) - Millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine manufactured at a U.S. plant that had a contamination issue and then shipped to Mexico are safe and have been approved by two regulators, Mexico’s deputy health minister said on Friday.

The doses were sent to Mexico as part of an agreement with the administration of President Joe Biden for 2.7 million shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to help supplement Mexico’s vaccination campaign amid global delays and shortages.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) halted production at the U.S. plant in Baltimore which produced the vaccines while it investigated an error that led to millions of doses being ruined last month.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell confirmed the vaccines Mexico received were produced at the same Baltimore plant but reiterated they were safe, and had been evaluated by the FDA as well as Mexican health regulator COFEPRIS.

“So, we are certain that it was a safe, quality product, the one that we put to Mexican people, 2.7 million,” Lopez Gatell said during a regular news conference. “No dose would have been released if not all requirements had been met.”

Johnson & Johnson was put in charge of manufacturing at the plant in early April by the U.S. government after it disclosed the error in which ingredients from AstraZeneca’s shot, also produced at the plant at that time, contaminated a batch of the J&J vaccine.

The New York Times earlier reported that millions of vaccines made at the plant were sent to both Mexico and Canada.

Neither Mexico’s foreign ministry nor a local representative of AstraZeneca immediately responded to a request for comment.

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison and Adriana Barrera; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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