Mexico's president to ask U.S. to share vaccines

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to ask President Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the U.S. coronavirus vaccine supply with its poorer southern neighbor when the two leaders hold a virtual summit on Monday.

That's according to U.S. and Mexican officials, including a source at the White House, who told Reuters that Biden is open to discussing the matter but will keep as his “number one priority” the need to vaccinate as many Americans as possible first.

Lopez Obrador - commonly referred to as AMLO - has pressed the richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to vaccines and has called the current distribution system “totally unfair.”

A Mexican official said AMLO would ask for a loan of the U.S. vaccine supplies, to be paid back when vaccines that Mexico has contracts for are delivered later in the year.

A U.S. official told Reuters the agenda for the virtual summit on Monday is also expected to include migration - the thorniest bilateral issue - together with law enforcement cooperation and economic development plans for southern Mexico and Central America.

The official made clear that while Biden is focused on getting Americans vaccinated, the U.S. recognizes the need to forge a strategy to assist its neighbors.

Mexico's inoculation program has been delayed by slow shipments, despite agreements with international drugmakers to purchase doses for the country's 126 million people.

So far, the Mexican government has given a first shot to just over 1.8 million people, or 1.4% of the population.

Video Transcript

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to ask President Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the US coronavirus vaccine supply with its poorer southern neighbor when the two leaders hold a virtual summit on Monday. That's according to US and Mexican officials, including a source at the White House, who told Reuters that Biden is open to discussing the matter but will keep as his number one priority the need to vaccinate as many Americans as possible first.

Lopez Obrador, commonly referred to as AMLO, has pressed the richest countries to improve poorer nations' access to vaccines and has called the current distribution system, quote, "totally unfair." Mexican officials said AMLO would ask for a loan of the US vaccine supplies to be paid back when vaccines that Mexico has contracts for are delivered later in the year.

A US official told Reuters the agenda for the virtual summit on Monday is also expected to include migration, the thorniest bilateral issue, together with law enforcement cooperation and economic development plans for Southern Mexico and Central America. The official made clear that while Biden is focused on getting Americans vaccinated, the US recognizes the need to forge a strategy to assist its neighbors.

Mexico's inoculation program has been delayed by slow shipments, despite agreements with international drugmakers to purchase doses for the country's 126 million people. So far, the Mexican government has given a first shot to just over 1.8 million people, or roughly 1 and 1/2 percent of the population.