Mexico’s president is expected to ask President Biden to share the U.S.’ vaccine supply with its neighbor to the south, Reuters reported.
Biden and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are set to meet virtually Monday. Lopez Obrador has frequently called on wealthier nations to take steps to ensure poorer ones can also access the vaccines. A White House official told Reuters “we fully expect that to come up” but that Biden, while open to discussing the issue, will prioritize inoculating as many Americans as possible.
“Once we actually get the pandemic under control, the economic recovery is one where we’re going to have to eventually open our borders,” the Biden administration official said. “But we cannot open our borders if Canada and Mexico have not similarly addressed the pandemic. So collaboration with Mexico is a top priority.”
A Mexican official told the news service that Lopez Obrador is expected to request a loan of vaccine supplies and offer to compensate the U.S. after Mexico’s vaccine contracts are fulfilled later in 2021.
Despite existing deals between Mexico and international pharmaceutical companies, the country has been hampered by shipping delays and it ordered from Russian and Chinese drugmakers to fill the void. Mexico has the third-most coronavirus-related deaths of any country, with 185,257, and has only vaccinated about 1.8 million people, or 1.4 percent of its population, according to Reuters.
Monday’s meeting is set to be the first between the two heads of state since Biden’s inauguration. Despite political differences between former President Trump and Lopez Obrador, the two cooperated on plans to reduce the influx of asylum seekers from Central America. Immigration is likely to be raised in the summit with Biden as the U.S. president works to roll back many of his predecessor’s hardline immigration policies.