Reuters – The Joe Biden administration downplayed the prospect of sharing coronavirus vaccines with Mexico, arguing it is focused on getting its own population protected against a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.
The remarks on Monday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki came before a video conference between Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and US President Joe Biden, in which the Mexican leader was expected to ask the United States to consider sharing some of its Covid-19 vaccine supply.
The administration's focus is on ensuring that every American is vaccinated. And once we accomplish that objective we're happy to discuss further steps, Ms Psaki said at a White House news conference.
Mr Biden told reporters that the two leaders would discuss the issue at the meeting’s outset. But an official statement released after the meeting ended made no mention of vaccine distribution. President Biden has predicted the United States will have enough supply by late July to inoculate all Americans.
US authorities have administered 76.9 million doses to date, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enough for 23% of the population to get the two doses recommended for full protection under the vaccines that have been deployed so far.
Mexico has vaccinated roughly 2.5 million doses so far, enough for about 1% of the population. Officials have been frustrated by bottlenecks in supply and raised concerns that wealthy countries are hoarding vaccines.
In a joint statement released after the meeting, the two countries said they would deepen their cooperation on Covid-19 response. They also said they would work together on immigration policies that recognize the dignity of migrants and the imperative of orderly, safe, and regular migration.
Lopez Obrador is pushing for more US work permits for Mexicans and Central Americans, including professionals