Diverting Vaccines to Remote Villages Saves Lives, Mexico Says

Mexico will save more lives with its limited Covid-19 vaccines by diverting some of them away from cities to impoverished rural communities, the nation’s health authorities said.

Remote regions with less access to health care are at greater risk from the virus, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s coronavirus czar, said Tuesday.

Social inequality “has led us to believe that our vaccination efforts should be directed to the places where there’s the greatest need, because that’s where there’s the greatest risk of complications,” Lopez-Gatell told reporters.

The country this week received its first 870,000 shots of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc. The government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said it will distribute them across the country, including in sparsely-populated rural communities, rather than restrict their use to vast urban centers such as Mexico City.

“We made the decision to start in the municipalities that are the farthest away, the most marginalized, with the poorest population in the country,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference on Sunday.

Covid-19 fatality rates are higher in rural areas, Lopez-Gatell said, reaching 12.4%, compared to 8.4% in cities. In addition, AstraZeneca’s shots don’t need deep-freezers, making them easier to transport. Upcoming batches of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. will be administered in cities, Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico has the third-highest rate of Covid-19 deaths in the world, according to the Bloomberg tracker, with a total of 174,657 reported on Monday night, according to the health ministry.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.