MEXICO CITY, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The total number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico has surpassed the half-a-million mark, as the government announced Thursday that the country will help produce a vaccine that could be distributed in Latin America next year.
The Health Department reported 7,371 new COVID-19 cases and 627 more related deaths Thursday, taking the nationwide tally of confirmed cases and death toll to 505,751 and 55,293, respectively.
Experts said that the numbers are conservative and the real figures are likely to be two or three times higher, as a result of the country's significantly low testing rates.
The authorities said Thursday that Mexico will, together with Argentina, produce a vaccine developed by Oxford University and British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
The goal is to "start manufacturing to have the vaccine in the first quarter of next year," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a news conference, noting that access to the vaccine would be "universal and free" across the country.