COVID-19 in MexicoThe COVID-19 pandemic has led to a historic level of downfall in Mexico’s economy, causing thousands of individuals to lose their jobs. As of 2018, approximately 42% of the Mexican population lived below the poverty line; the pandemic has unfortunately strongly contributed more and more individuals to the impoverished communities in Mexico. The Mexican government did not impose a general lockdown because many citizens could not afford it. Even so, the economy was paralyzed due to most consumers locking themselves down voluntarily. Furthermore, public hospitals collapsed, resulting in people unable to receive medical attention or the private visit that could ultimately save their lives. COVID-19 in Mexico has brought to light the wealth disparity among citizens in Mexican society.

Vaccine Inequality

Vaccine inequality is prominent among those living in poverty. Vaccines are not currently reaching the rural areas of Mexico where there are thousands of people who are now geographically isolated from vaccine centers. Additionally, those who live in rural areas would require technology to stay informed about these vaccine centers, but poverty inhibits people from accessing technology and therefore the necessary education and information about vaccination.

Many citizens in Mexico did not originally believe in the severity of the novel coronavirus; face masks did not start being worn as soon as recommended. Health authorities reported not only that many people were not using face masks but also a large number of people were unable to afford one. As a result, patients who were living in extreme poverty are less likely to survive COVID-19 in Mexico. This is largely due to the fact that the impoverished are more exposed to the virus compared to those who are able to afford to quarantine and avoid exposure.


The Mexican government is struggling to give the necessary attention to many who need it most. According to the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, or CONEVAL, COVID-19 in Mexico caused a 63% drop in household income. The pandemic has proven that staying home is a privilege that many impoverished citizens do not have. Statistically speaking, 27% of people living in poverty contracted the novel coronavirus, while only 5% of the upper-class contracted COVID-19. This demonstrates the clear relationship between high rates of infection and socioeconomic status in Mexico.

Looking Forward

COVID-19 in Mexico has caused thousands of deaths, and the lack of infrastructure and government initiatives has caused delays in the vaccination process. However, Mexico has received more than 2.7 million COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the United States. The White House has made what is considered a positive diplomatic step forward in providing Mexico with these doses of the vaccine, and the hope is that even more vaccines will be sent by the U.S.

The NGO Direct Relief has donated 330,000 masks to help relieve the crisis. As well, Direct Relief assisted in importing the 100,000 KN95 masks donated by Academy Award-winning film director Alfonso Cuarón. Many people are benefiting from the action, and the vaccination process is slowly improving in Mexico.

COVID-19 in Mexico has demonstrated how socioeconomic status affects access to healthcare and the ability to protect oneself from the pandemic. However, vaccination has begun and donations of personal protective equipment, or PPE, are steps in the right direction for Mexico’s handling of the novel coronavirus.

– Ainara Ruano Cervantes
Photo: Flickr

Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Though vaccine development and vaccine distribution have made incredible strides in the past few decades, developing countries are still consistently behind as wealthier countries monopolize available vaccine resources. The most recent example of this monopolization is the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 that killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. This problematic new strain emerged in April 2020, and the U.S. began distributing vaccines in October of that same year. Vaccines did not become available to countries in Africa until later that year, which is significant due to the fact that this influenza virus already hit peak infectivity before vaccines became available to developing nations. It is essential to consider how to ensure equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Analyzing the H1N1 pandemic provides scientists and citizens alike valuable insight into possible future complications that may arise with vaccine distribution in response to the far more deadly COVID-19 virus. The solution to providing more equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution for developing countries may lie in the innovative COVAX Pillar of the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.

What is COVAX?

The principal focus of COVAX is vaccine development and distribution, with the other two pillars focused more on the organization between governments, health organizations, vaccine manufacturers and other industries related to COVID-19 research. COVAX allows for countries to support and negotiate with vaccine developers, which provides necessary vaccines should these developers produce successful vaccines. The support of COVAX provides both wealthy and poor nations reassurance that as new vaccines become available, they will go to participating nations. As more vaccines develop and successfully pass through clinical trials, countries that participate in the COVAX alliance receive first priority to these vaccines. Wealthy nations that contribute money obtain more doses to reach a majority of their populations, whereas developing countries that do not directly fund this program receive vaccines for the most at-risk groups.

Wealthier countries have the ability to decide how much they would like to contribute towards developing countries. Providing funding for developing nations is an investment that will decrease global COVID-19 prevalence and therefore increase safety for each respective nation. Vaccines for developing countries also receive partial funding from the Gavi COVAX AMC, which has already raised over $2 billion, reaching the goal for the end of 2020. Even more promising is that in December 2020, the U.S. allocated $4 billion for this program in its COVID-19 relief package, bringing the total already much closer to the necessary $5 billion by the end of 2021.

As with the two current vaccines available in the United States, the first priority group for distribution in the COVAX program is frontline healthcare workers. This program plans to vaccinate at least 3% of each participating nation’s population. As availability continues to grow and new vaccines become available, distribution will increase to 20% of each population.

Reasons for Optimism

To ensure equitable distribution of vaccines when they do become available, the World Health Organization (WHO), GAVI and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations are developing an Independent Allocation of Vaccines Group (IAVG) comprised of experts to make these crucial decisions. These experts have the task of deciding the volume of vaccines that will go to each participating nation to provide valuable insight and decision-making without any conflict of interest. This cooperative effort is vital to the concept of equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution and will allow for the meeting of distribution goals.

In the latest news briefing on January 22, 2021, the COVAX alliance announced an agreement for the distribution of 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use. This 40 million adds to the 150 million of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines that will undergo utilization upon completion of clinical trials. With the impressive goal to distribute two billion total vaccines by the end of 2021, this collaborative effort continues to promise 1.3 billion of those doses to the 92 lower-income economies participating in the alliance.

In summary, the COVAX pillar through the Gavi Alliance benefits both wealthy countries and developing countries. Wealthy countries obtain access to developing vaccines to provide a sense of security for their populations as these vaccines become available. In the case of developing countries, they save money on funding these vaccine developments and receive a guarantee they will obtain enough vaccines for the most at-risk groups at no charge or minimal charge. An alliance of this magnitude provides enough structure and funding to successfully promote equitable distribution that benefits all participating nations.

– Jackson Thennis
Photo: Flickr