Regardless of the investment, the magnate was rushing his negotiators with AstraZeneca and the federal government to begin production of the vaccine as soon as possible, according to his spokesman Arturo Elías Ayub.
“What the engineer (Carlos Slim) told us during the negotiation was:‘ Hurry up and close the deal, do it now ‘, Elías Ayub said in an interview.
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.
Carlos Slim push for COVID-19 vaccine
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.
Following the Negotiations
“Hey, but it costs so much (amount of money) and he would repeat: ‘make the deal, close it and the only thing that mattered to him in this negotiation was time, because what he wants is to save, as soon as possible, as much of possible lives, that is the only thing that worries him and what has interested him in this process ”, he added.
Precisely, the deal with AstraZeneca in which Slim’s team participated was considered a “different negotiation,” said Elías Ayub, his son-in-law, used to big business in the telecommunications sector.
“Here you cannot negotiate with people’s lives, you cannot negotiate with health, so what we tried, more than closing a good deal, which I think was a great deal for both parties, was to do it as quickly as possible” , he related
The businessman said that the objective was to close the deal as soon as possible so that “manufacturing” of the vaccine would begin quickly and “for it to be delivered” in the shortest time.
This day, in the presentation of agreement with the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, it was reported that the Mexican industry could start the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.
The also director of strategic alliances of América Móvil recalled that the Slim Foundation does not guarantee the vaccine. “We guarantee that production starts ahead of time to bring it to Latin America.”
“We are economically guaranteeing, with AstraZeneca, that production begins so that when the vaccine is approved we are well advanced in time and not have to wait ten months to one more year for the vaccine to arrive in Mexico,” he said.
Elías Ayub, also director of Fundación Telmex, said that what they have specified is to advance the money to buy supplies, materials, machinery “that is needed to manufacture the vaccine with the technology of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
In addition, he said that the foundation has assumed the risk that if the vaccine is not approved, which for now is in Phase 3, “we would lose that advance.”
He ruled out talking about the investment amounts in the vaccine “because it will depend on the advances of all the governments of Latin America, which will also enter the risk.”
But he explained that there will be a minimum of 150 million doses up to 250 million “if there is demand” and that each dose is estimated to cost around 4 dollars.
On Wednesday, AstraZeneca signed an agreement with the Carlos Slim Foundation to contribute to the production in Argentina and Mexico and the distribution without economic benefit in Latin America, of the potential vaccine against Covid-19, AZD1222, during the pandemic.
This agreement will initially provide 150 million doses in the region, excluding Brazil, which will be covered by AstraZeneca’s agreement with the Brazilian government announced last June.
Shipments are expected to begin in the first half of 2021, should clinical trials prove successful.