Our local Facebook pages here on the coast are starting to heat up about the virus.
That sentence sounds nonsensical. Facebook pages populated by northerners have been virus-obsessive for over a year now. But a new wave has started with vaccinations.
In mid-February, I drove over to Cihuatlán to gather information for an essay about the first round of virus vaccinations in our area. I had no intention of getting a jab. But, after standing in line to interview the vaccination team, I decided that I had invested enough time that I would accept the vaccination (a tale of two lines).
When I was discharged, a young man on the team gave me a sheet of paper showing the date and type of my first vaccination. Near the bottom was a statement that my booster would be administered on 15 April. He then annotated my sheet that the date was approximate and that I would receive a telephone call letting me know when and where I would actually receive my booster (the dearly departing).
Since then, several events have occurred that gave life to that "approximate" warning. The European Union has started indulging in a rather odd bout of vaccine nationalism by threatening to cut off the export of AstraZenca vaccines to the rest of the world.
India, which has been the biggest producer of AstraZeneca vaccine has taken a similar course. On 24 March, it announced it would freeze all exports of the vaccine and use the supply for its own citizens. The freeze is anticipated to remain in effect through May.
The news from India is bad for Mexico. Mexico anticipated receiving millions of doses from India through COVAX. That is not going to happen. At least, not for two more months.
According to The Economist, when new studies of the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine showed that the first jab has a 76% efficacy rate and a second jab adds only 6% more efficacy, the Mexican government considered limiting AstraZeneca vaccinations to one jab. That was based on the goal of vaccinating as many people in Mexico as possible. The reasoning made sense when doses were limited.
That concern was lessened on 29 March when Mexico received the loan of 1.5 million does of a promised 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca from The States. The States has an undisclosed quantity of the vaccine stockpiled -- vaguely described as "tens of millions. The Americans cannot currently use those doses because the vaccine has not yet been approved. Thus the loan to Mexico. 1.3 million doses were also loaned to Canada.
That means the AstraZeneca stockpile has been partially replenished. There has been no word on whether those doses will be used for boosters or whether they will be given to people who have not yet been vaccinated.
Mexico has approved and is administering five different vaccines: Pfizer, AstraZeneca/Oxford University, Sputnik V, Ad5-nCoV, and CoronaVac. The last two are Chinese vaccines. That gives Mexico multiple paths for its ongoing vaccination program that is behind its original schedule.
Since the primary goal is to create herd immunity, and not to provide individual immunity, it would make sense to use all current doses to vaccinate as many as people as possible. But that is not my call, and I have no idea what the people who make that decision are now thinking with the arrival of the American AstraZeneca doses.
By coincidence, I was in Villa Obregón on Sunday and talked with the woman who had been standing next to me through the entire vaccination process in February. I asked her if she had heard anything about our booster. She said she had not given it much thought because she had received the same notification I had received -- that the date was only approximate.
She then asked me why we Canadians worry so much about time. I did not bother correcting her about the nationality error because her comment applies to most northerners. We are obsessed with time -- actually, we are obsessed with anything that can be quantified.
Her Mexican attitude was that it would happen when it happens. If it happens.
I have never been anxious about getting the vaccine. In fact, I was surprisingly pleased to be able to boost my immunity with the shot I received.
As for the second, we shall see.
Because I do not have full Mexican patrience, I will probably drive over to Cihuatlán on 15 April to see if anything is happening at the IMSS clinic.
Even if nothing is, it will make for a good story -- about learning patience in this land that still provides a positive life for me.