Newest coronavirus: New circumstances within the US and hospital admissions stabilize as 1,600 extra die

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Jude Webber

Mexican business leaders hope to reach an agreement with health officials this week that will allow them to purchase doses of Covid-19 vaccines for their employees in addition to the vaccines already ordered by the government.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has guaranteed free, universal access to Covid vaccines, and the government has bought enough doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech batch to vaccinate 125,000 people, starting with health care workers in Mexico City and in Pacific state of Colima.

Business leaders told the government they could support the vaccination effort with their distribution chains and use their facilities as vaccination centers.

"Many companies would be more than able and willing to pay for the vaccines if they had access to additional amounts to administer to their workers," said Patrick Devlyn, president of the health commission of CCE, Mexico's largest lobby employer.

Although Mexicans shouldn't have to pay for the vaccine, Devlyn said it was "not very productive" to keep higher-risk workers out of work due to the risk of getting Covid-19.

A resident wears a mask on a street in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

"It would be cheaper to pay for the vaccine than to keep it in the bank," he said, stressing that such a plan is "entirely voluntary." The Pfizer / BioNTech burst costs about $ 12 per shot, he said.

Mexico City, home to a quarter of the population, has again seen the highest restrictions this weekend, with all non-essential services being closed due to an alarming surge in hospital stays.

Mr Devlyn said he expected further discussions on Monday with Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of State for Health, and Zoé Robledo, head of the State Social Security Institute, IMSS, to clarify the details.

Mexico has pre-ordered Pfizer / BioNTech, Astra Zeneca / Oxford and CanSino vaccines and plans to roll out the vaccines during 2021 depending on age.

Mr Devlyn said the government expects to buy an additional 30 million doses of vaccine in February, and the private sector can take back that order with its own order that could cover up to 4 million people.