Tag Archives: mexico

H1N1 Vaccine Loan

Canada to lend Mexico 5 million doses of H1N1 vaccine; expects to be repaid

By Helen Branswell, Medical Reporter, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Canada, which has a large surplus of H1N1 vaccine on its hands, announced Wednesday it will lend some to Mexico.

Canada’s NAFTA partner has ordered vaccine from manufacturers Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline, but won’t take possession of the bulk of its supply until the end of this month.

So this week GSK Canada will ship five million doses of adjuvanted vaccine from Canada’s stockpile to Mexico. Later, GSK Canada will put five million doses of adjuvanted vaccine from Mexico’s order into the reserve the company is holding for Canada.

The move was announced in a press release which stipulated that the vaccine will be replaced by the end of March.

“This is not a donation,” the release stated in the lead paragraph. The loan was triggered by a request from Mexico, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.

“We are privileged that we are in a position to support Mexico’s pandemic response efforts,” Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in the release.

“The immediate response to Mexico’s request by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments serves as testimony to the special relationship that exists between Canada and Mexico.”

Aglukkaq was not available Wednesday and officials of the Public Health Agency of Canada declined to be interviewed on the development.

But in an emailed answer to questions, the agency said Canada currently has enough vaccine to meet domestic demand and could therefore accommodate the Mexican request.

In fact, Canada likely already has much more vaccine than it will need. Demand here, as elsewhere, has plummeted in recent weeks as H1N1 activity has waned in much of the Northern Hemisphere.

The Public Health Agency estimates that somewhere between 40 and 45 per cent of Canadians have been vaccinated against the pandemic virus. At one dose per person, that represents around 15 million doses.

But according to the agency’s most recent estimate – which dates back to Dec. 12 – Canada has taken possession of 27 million doses of vaccine, with much more to come.

The country bought 50.6 million doses of vaccine – 50.4 million from GSK and 200,000 doses of unadjuvanted vaccine from Australian manufacturer CSL Ltd. The GSK order was placed at a time when it was thought two doses per person would be needed for protection. Studies later showed one dose is sufficient for all but young children.

While the Public Health Agency said it is currently impossible to estimate the size of the potential vaccine surplus, it is clear that short of a huge surge in demand Canada will be left with more doses left over than it actually used. The surplus could be in the range of 30 million to 35 million doses.

That situation, which has been apparent for some time, has left observers here and abroad wondering what Canada will do with the excess vaccine and why the country hasn’t joined a group of other nations that are contributing to international vaccine fund for developing countries.

That effort, led by the World Health Organization, is set to make its first deliveries to Azerbaijan and Mongolia this week followed by Afghanistan next week.

“If you really want to hold a mirror up to our nation, you might ask the question why we’re lending and not just giving,” Dr. Ross Upshur, head of the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics, said when he heard the news Canada is lending vaccine to Mexico.

“What does that say about us? We’re not using the vaccine that we have, we’ve got a surplus, but we’re not big enough just to simply give?”

“If we do end up … not using it when there is a need for it elsewhere, that’s really a terrible condemnation of our policies.”

For weeks officials have been saying a decision about the unneeded vaccine would be made early in the New Year. But so far, deliberations are still taking place at the highest levels of government.

“There are a number of options being explored for dealing with surplus vaccine,” the Public Health Agency said by email. “These will be announced when we are confident we have enough vaccine to meet current needs and future contingencies.”

Canadian officials continue to press the public to get vaccinated, saying it’s too soon to rule out a return of the virus.

But the rates of uptake in all but the largest provinces are quite high, leaving some to question how many more people can be persuaded to get an H1N1 shot.

Some jurisdictions have topped 60 per cent.

Newfoundland and Labrador estimates it has vaccinated 68 per cent of its residents, followed by New Brunswick at about 67 per cent, Northwest Territories at 62 per cent and Nunavut at 61 per cent. Nova Scotia hasn’t yet calculated the percentage of doses administered, but says it has sent out to clinics and doctors’ offices enough for 64 per cent of its population.

Quebec and Prince Edward Island say they have vaccinated 57 per cent of their residents and Yukon about 53 per cent.

Saskatchewan estimates about 48 per cent of its citizens have received the H1N1 shot and British Columbia about 40 per cent.

Alberta says between 35 and 40 per cent of its residents have been vaccinated, followed by Ontario at 38 per cent and Manitoba at 36 per cent.

Canada isn’t alone in trying to figure out what to do with excess vaccine.

The Netherlands, Spain, France and Germany are among those that have publicly acknowledged they are looking to either sell excess vaccine or scale back their orders. And Australia has admitted it has used only about one-quarter of the doses it purchased.

The Netherlands has already sold surplus doses. And in recent days, France has announced it is cancelling more than half of its original order of 94 million doses. Reports suggest France is also negotiating to sell vaccine to countries in the Middle East and Central America.


By any means necessary….????

Drug war abuses by Mexican army rise sharply

By Mica Rosenberg

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Complaints of torture, murder and illegal detention by the Mexican army have jumped as soldiers have been dragged into a long, gruesome battle with powerful drug cartels, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Mexico’s national human rights commission received some 2,000 accusations of abuse by the military in 2008 and the first six months of 2009, a sharp jump from 367 complaints in 2007 and 182 in 2006, the rights group said in a report.

In one case documented by Amnesty, 31-year-old Saul Becerra was picked up in an army raid at a car wash in Ciudad Juarez, near the U.S.-Mexico border.

His body was found a year later and his death certificate showed he died the day after his detention of a severe brain hemorrhage from blunt-force trauma.

“The cases that we have been able to investigate are truly shocking. But what is more shocking is that we know that this is only the tip of the iceberg,” Kerrie Howard, deputy director of Amnesty’s Americas program, said in a statement.

President Felipe Calderon has deployed 49,000 soldiers across Mexico to combat the feuding drug cartels who control cocaine trafficking from South America, produce methamphetamines and grow marijuana for U.S. consumers.

The army has failed to curb violence with more than 16,000 people killed in the drug war since Calderon took office in late 2006 and the president risks losing public support for his military-backed crackdown.

In a sign of the intensity of the fight, suspected drug gang members attacked a police helicopter in the northern state of Durango on Tuesday, provoking a fierce battle with soldiers in which 10 assailants died, police and the army said.

Thousands of people protested against the army presence in Ciudad Juarez on Sunday, calling for troops to leave.

Mexico’s interior ministry said in a statement it would look seriously at Amnesty’s report and that the army was committed to protecting human rights.

Generals in Mexico City deny systematic rights abuses by soldiers and say any troops caught working for the cartels or failing to respect human rights are tried in military courts.


The army has taken on more policing roles because many of Mexico’s police forces are working for the drug gangs, and soldiers often clash with local law enforcement.

In March, 25 police officers were detained by the military, held incommunicado for 41 days and tortured to illicit false confessions, the Amnesty report said.

One police officer told human rights investigators how he was beaten for hours until he fainted and was given electric shocks on his feet and genitals.

Other people detained by the army said they were suffocated temporarily with plastic bags or told they would be executed.

The United States has promised Mexico $1.4 billion in aid to boost Calderon’s anti-drug campaign but so far only about 2 percent, or $26 million, has been spent in Mexico, said a recent report from the U.S. government accountability office.

Fifteen percent of the drug aid can be withheld if there are legitimate complaints of human rights abuses committed by the Mexican army. But President Barack Obama said on a visit to Mexico earlier this year that the drug traffickers were the biggest violators of human rights.