Political motives seen in AMLO’s vaccine plan

Critics say Mexico's vaccine rollout puts his political base — rural elderly voters — first in line. File photo
Critics say Mexico’s vaccine rollout puts his political base — rural elderly voters — first in line. File photo

Mexico’s coronavirus rollout plans were criticized Tuesday for allegedly favoring the president’s political base.

“We’re going to start at the bottom, where the most marginalized people live,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said when announcing that elderly residents in rural areas will be first in line for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.

The president said teachers in states that could return to in-person classes would also be vaccinated at that time.

But experts told The Associated Press that it would be more efficient to focus the first vaccine efforts on elderly people living in urban areas, both because they are easier to reach and because they live closer together and have a higher risk of infection. Under López Obrador’s plan, the experts said, a time-consuming and difficult campaign will be required to reach the rural elderly.

“The only explanation I see (for the plan) is a political one,” said Miguel Betancourt, president of the Mexican Society for Public Health. “They are a target population for the president’s policies.”

“In fact, the president himself said that vaccines will be administered at the same sites used to distribute (government) pensions,” Betancourt said. “I give you your vaccine, and I give you a handout.”

Mauricio Rodríguez, a professor at the medical school of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said starting in rural areas would only make sense if it involved the easier-to-use CanSino vaccine. Otherwise, he said, starting in urban areas with more cases would make more sense.

Source: The Associated Press

Related: Slow vaccine rollout plagued by scammers in Quintana Roo

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