(Corrects to show delays due to internal controls, not regulatory)
MEXICO CITY, April 30 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday the United States would probably send his country 5 million more doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, as the company admitted production in Latin American had suffered multiple setbacks.
Struggling with behind-schedule local AstraZeneca production and shortfalls in deliveries from foreign vaccine suppliers, Mexico has asked the United States for more shots after initially receiving some 2.7 million AstraZeneca doses from the U.S.
“It’s probable that they’ll help us with a loan, while the AstraZeneca plant in Mexico gets up and running,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference.
The U.S. State Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
In a statement shared with Reuters on Friday, AstraZeneca said it regretted the delays, which it attributed to lower-than-expected yields from initial vaccine batches, shortages of critical supplies and longer periods to meet internal controls.
Under a deal reached last year, the mAbxience laboratory in Argentina manufactures the active ingredient of the vaccine and ships it for bottling to a factory in Mexico owned by a company called Liomont.
Argentina has delivered cargos of the active ingredient to Mexico, but a series of regulatory approvals and reviews have delayed Liomont’s commercial production from an original target of March. AstraZeneca said deliveries of the shots would now begin before the end of June.
An additional site in the United States will help meet the target of 150 million doses for the region, excluding Brazil, this year, AstraZeneca said, with 80% of the shots bottled at the Mexico plant.
The doses bottled in Mexico are intended to be distributed across Latin America and the delays have affected vaccination programs in the region. Argentina’s government this week formally requested a report on production from AstraZeneca.
Liomont referred a request for comment to AstraZeneca.
In Mexico, the problems have been compounded by deliveries of far fewer Sputnik V doses from Russia than had been agreed, and lower volumes than expected of Pfizer Inc’s coronavirus vaccines.
Reuters reported on Thursday that Pfizer will ship doses made in its U.S. plant to Mexico for the first time.
Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Adriana Barrera and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Leslie Adler Editing by Bill Berkrot and Grant McCool