Mexico received its first shipment Wednesday of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech. 

A plane carrying the vaccines arrived at Mexico City International Airport in the morning and the vaccination process will take place Thursday. Hospitals in Mexico City and the northeastern city of Saltillo will be the first to receive the vaccines.

“Today is the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” said Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard at a press conference.

“The necessary vaccines needed to secure a universal and quick application are secured, paid for and on their way. It’s true that we are still facing a terrible pandemic — the worst that we’ve lived through. But today is the beginning of the end of this pandemic. Today we can see that we are going to defeat these viruses that have affected our lives and we can say that there is hope and we are very happy,” Ebrard said on Twitter.

According to Finance Minister Arturo Herrera Gutierrez, the cost of the vaccine was agreed at US$1.65 billion. However, the total expense derived from the transportation and application of the vaccine will add another US$64 million in general costs.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador detailed that the armed forces will be in charge of guarding the vaccines.

“We are securing the way to provide the vaccine to all hospitals in the region, not just these two cities [Mexico City and Saltillo], but contemplating vaccinating all nurses and doctors from all COVID-19 hospitals. There over a 1,000 hospitals which are the priority,” he said.

Studies show a 95% effectiveness against COVID-19 for the Pfizer vaccine. At the moment, Mexico is going through a second wave of cases that have compromised the country’s health system and medical staff alike.

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