Mexico has authorized the coronavirus vaccine developed by drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University for emergency use in the country.

Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the undersecretary of prevention and health promotion under the Health Ministry, made the announcement on Twitter late Monday, saying the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks, or COFEPRIS, licensed the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Lopez-Gatell later said in a press conference that the vaccine could be available in March.

“Very good news the emergency approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine by COFEPRIS!!!! With this, production in Mexico will begin very soon!!!” Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter to welcome the development.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Mexico, following the Pfizer/BioNTech shot which was approved in early December. Mexico pre-purchased 77.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics Inc that completed late-stage trials in Mexico also seeks an emergency use authorization in the country. However, Lopez-Gatell clarified on Twitter that “so far no authorization has been granted” and the company has not yet submitted the complete file.

Some 43,960 health professionals have been vaccinated with the first dose so far, according to the Health Ministry.

The Central American country has nearly 1.5 million confirmed virus cases and about 128,000 fatalities, while 1.1 million have recovered from the disease, according to a running tally by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

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