MEXICO CITY (appro). – The Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell, qualified as false the affirmations published in an article of the recognized British magazine The Lancet.
In the text signed by David Agren, The Lancet takes up a recent Amnesty International report that states that more health workers have died in Mexico than anywhere else.
In the note, Agren highlights the more than 70 thousand deaths in Mexico, “a count only surpassed by the United States, Brazil and India,” and states that the country has followed a strategy of not conducting extensive testing or contact tracing, but rather monitoring the hospital’s ability to report the relaxation of restrictions.
“They are very clear about the characteristics of Mexico’s response and they are lying, saying that we have a policy of not testing or not tracking contacts,” Lopez-Gatell said during the press conference to update the status of the pandemic in Mexico.
“We have talked here more than 201 times about the role that contact tracing plays in interrupting transmission chains and how this mechanics of tracing, detecting cases, studying their contacts, is called people-centered containment and was established in Mexico deliberately, purposefully, and programmatically before the first case”
He pointed out that it is precisely the state authorities who are coordinating this effort because it is the members of the state and jurisdictional and local health personnel who are doing this operation.
The Lancet article was replicated in Mexico by the website of the organization Mexicans Against Corruption.
After acknowledging that he met with representatives of the pharmaceutical company Landsteiner Scientific to talk about the Russian vaccine Sputnik-V, the Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell clarified that the meeting does not imply a commercial or financial agreement for the distribution of the vaccine.
“It is not the purpose of the meeting, it is not the way in which health inputs are negotiated by the Mexican government and by the Ministry of Health, which is the entity that would be responsible, in due time, for the acquisition of the vaccines. This is not the mechanism” he commented at the afternoon press conference on the data of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country, held at the National Palace.
He detailed that the Mexican pharmaceutical company proposed to the Secretary of Health, Jorge Alconcer, in an official letter, their interest in talking to have a harmonic process of intention to register Sputnik-V in Mexico and the objective was to know the elements of evidence that, up to this moment, the proponents, the company or the Russian government have in their possession.
“As we have also commented regarding this or any other vaccine, we are talking about vaccines against covid-19, but in a strict sense it would be extendable to any pharmaceutical product. In all the cases, in absolutely all the cases it is indispensable and it cannot be exempted that there is an analysis process, of evidence demonstration, of three fundamental characteristics, which are quality, safety and efficacy,” he added.
In this sense, he considered that the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) has the obligation to follow the highest standards, transparency and credibility in the process of evaluation of the scientific evidence that, in due time, is presented.
“We have no prejudice whatsoever regarding this vaccine or any other. The evidence will have to speak for itself, but it will have to be irrefutable. We will follow the same process, but we will have these same conversations… We had it with another laboratory, Janssen, a couple of weeks ago and we will have it with any other that approaches to present their proposals to seek a harmonization of effort,” he said.
He stressed that it is in the interest of the Ministry of Health that clinical research and clinical trials follow rules of ethics, professional research standards and, of course, transparency in the generation of traceability information, and these rules are established in regulations, standards and other legal instruments, which is an exclusive power of the Ministry of Health, to regulate them.
Regarding the information disseminated by the first Mexican who voluntarily applied the experimental vaccine elaborated by Janssen, in Madrid, Spain, Lopez-Gatell commented that a search was made but no evidence was found that this was true, that the clinical trial of this pharmaceutical’s candidate vaccine is in progress in Spain or that any Mexican participated.
“What we can say is that the clinical trial of the Janssen vaccine has not started in Mexico. What we can say with the conversation we had with this company, a couple of weeks ago, is that different research groups have been pre-identified, all of them of high professional competence that could be interested in conducting these studies,” Lopez-Gatell said.
In that sense, Lopez-Gatell commented that, in due time, the company Janssen will have to make available to Cofepris the application for approval of the clinical trial, and until authorization is obtained, it will not be able to start it.
“It is possible that this will happen in the next few days, but Janssen himself, at least with respect to Mexico, had a delay because the results of the phase 1 and 2 trials had not been published and, likewise, stages cannot be burned out, the start of a phase 3 clinical trial cannot be authorized until the results are in or the evidence of safety and efficacy of the products in phases 1 and 2 has been properly analyzed.
“If at any time an authorization is given without it having been published or analyzed or there is traceable or credible evidence that this evidence has been analyzed, a serious fault would be incurred,” he stated.
When questioned about whether it matters that he is Mexican even if he was in Spain, the official clarified:
“It is inconsequential. Nationality does not have to be a limitation. People of any nationality or multiple nationalities could participate voluntarily, it is indispensable that it be voluntary, in any clinical trial,” said Lopez-Gatell.
Thus, he recommended the population not to have any prejudice without evidence that the vaccines could be unsafe because that is what the clinical trials are for and that is why they start in the phase where there are very few people recruited to have a gradual safety evaluation procedure.
“We should not have a preconceived opinion that vaccines can be harmful,” he requested.
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