Mexico’s health agency Cofepris approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said at a press conference Friday night.
The health agency began reviewing data on the vaccine Nov. 26 and a 24-member committee voted unanimously to approve its use, according to a statement. Mexico joins the UK, Canada and the US as countries that have granted emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine. It’s the first country in Latin America to do so.
Lopez-Gatell made the announcement moments before presenting numbers that show Covid-19 is still spreading rapidly in Mexico, especially in its capital. The Health Ministry reported 12,253 new cases, bringing the total to 1,229,379, and making it the fourth day straight the country has seen infections rise by more than 11,000.
Deaths rose by 693 to 113,019. Mexico has the fourth highest number of Covid-19 fatalities after the US, Brazil and India, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Hospitalizations in the capital of Mexico City have been accelerating, Lopez-Gatell said. Occupancy of beds with ventilators, used to care for patients with the most serious cases, has reached 62%. While Mexico has avoided enacting strict lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus, Lopez-Gatell implored Mexico City residents to stay home except for essential activity and avoid parties and gatherings.
“Stay home, if you don’t have to go out, don’t go out,” Lopez-Gatell said. For those who do go out, they should wear a mask and maintain social distancing, he said.