AstraZeneca will work with Mexico, Argentina to produce COVID-19 vaccine doses

AstraZeneca's gung-ho effort to lock in national supply deals for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate has paid off in recent weeks with a series of expensive agreements. Now, the British drugmaker will work with Mexico and Argentina to pump up supply to Latin American countries. 

The two countries will produce between 150 million and 250 million doses of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford's adenovirus-based vaccine at no profit starting in the first half of 2021.

The local production pacts are contingent on successful clinical trials, and Argentina's health minister told Bloomberg the country would target the elderly, patients with pre-existing conditions, and front-line health care workers with the first doses. 

Mexico's effort, funded in part by billionaire business magnate Carlos Slim, comes as the country has emerged as one of the leading COVID-19 hotspots with nearly half a billion cases since the pandemic's start, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Argentina, meanwhile, has reported around 268,000 cases so far. 

The newest deal continues AstraZeneca's run of national supply pacts, designed to piece together the 2 billion doses the company aims to deliver each year. 

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Last week, the drugmaker and the Brazilian government announced plans to ramp up an earlier supply deal, with Brazil pledging $360 million to the effort. 

Those funds will cover an initial 100 million-dose order, AstraZeneca said, as well as Brazil's licensing rights to produce the shot at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, also known as Fiocruz, if the vaccine is found effective in clinical trials.

An AstraZeneca spokesman said the new agreement "builds on" the drugmaker's earlier deal with Brazil in June to supply around 30 million unfinished doses of the vaccine at a price tag of $127 million, or around $4 per dose.

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