(Adds details about Mexico’s COVAX plans)
MEXICO CITY, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday said his country will finalize this week a deal to join the World Health Organization’s global COVAX plan, which aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of next year.
A dozen Central and Latin American countries had informed the WHO that they would request more time to sign up for the COVAX multilateral mechanism after the midnight on Friday deadline to formalize legally binding documents.
Ebrard also said Mexico is also preparing for Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trials with companies from around the globe, with seven companies either signed up to carry out the final-phase trials in Mexico or showing interest in doing so.
“We are going to be in Covax this week and we are going to have these Phase 3 vaccine projects in Mexico,” Ebrard told a press conference.
Mexico’s director general of epidemiology, Jose Luis Alomia, last week said Mexico was preparing to buy as many vaccines as possible under the Covax initiatives and had until Oct. 9 to complete advance payments for the vaccine.
Ebrard said Mexico was in talks with companies from China, Germany, Russia, France, Italy and the United States to conduct coronavirus trials. Mexico has also struck a deal to produce pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine in Mexico for the Latin American market.
Mexico surpassed 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday even as health authorities cited what they described as nearly two months of slowing infection rates. The Latin American nation has registered 73,697 coronavirus deaths. (Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Steve Orlofsky)