Mexico City – After a three-year wait, Mexicans will soon be able to purchase COVID-19 vaccines directly from pharmacies. Health regulator Cofepris recently approved Moderna and Pfizer’s bivalent vaccines, targeting the Omicron XBB 1.5 subvariant.
On December 7, Cofepris announced that it had authorized the “health registration” of Moderna (Spikevax monovalent XBB 1.5) and Pfizer (Comirnaty Omicron XBB 1.5) vaccines, which it found “complied with requirements of quality, safety and effectiveness.”
However, access won’t be immediate. The COVID-19 vaccines can only be sold by pharmacies authorized to handle controlled medications, representing just 35% of the total. Additionally, specialized storage and trained personnel are required.
Rafael Gual, the general director of the National Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry, anticipates that once the “definitive health registration” and importation permits are secured, Mexican laboratories could start importing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as early as January or February 2024.
The cost factor adds another layer of complexity to the vaccine distribution. Pfizer and Moderna have set list prices for their vaccines at $120 and $129 per dose, respectively. Here in Mexico, initial estimates suggest a cost of around 2,000 pesos per dose. This translates to roughly $115 at the current exchange rate.
As the nation prepares to make these vaccines accessible to the public, the challenge lies not just in logistics but also in making the vaccines affordable for the majority of Mexicans.