Mexico said Tuesday it had signed deals with three pharmaceutical companies from the United States and China to carry out clinical trials of potential coronavirus vaccines in the hard-hit country.
The Latin American nation, which has the world's third-highest COVID-19 death toll, said that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, part of Johnson & Johnson, CanSino Biologics and Walvax Biotechnology, would begin Phase 3 trials from September.
They will join French company Sanofi, which is also carrying out final stage trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine in the country of more than 128 million.
After infection rates fell in Europe thanks to lockdown measures, drug companies turned to hard-hit countries including Mexico, Brazil and South Africa to carry out large-scale vaccine trials on volunteers.
The government wants to ensure that "Mexico has timely access" to a coronavirus vaccine when it is ready, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a news conference.
He said Mexico was in direct contact with 15 of the laboratories most advanced in the field.
The country has reported 53,000 deaths from the virus -- behind only the United States and Brazil -- although the government points out that, adjusted for population size, it is not as badly hit.