Vaccines at a Cuban Rhythm

By Ángel Guerra Cabrera on September 30, 2021

In another moving feat, Cuba announced on Tuesday 28th that more than 80 percent of its inhabitants have already received at least one of the three doses that are part of its immunization scheme with its own vaccines against Covid. This places Cuba at the head of Latin America and the Caribbean in this indicator and among the first places in the world. According to September 26 data from Our World in Data, the island was only surpassed, in terms of percent of fully or partially vaccinated, by the United Arab Emirates, Spain and Portugal, among a list that includes the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Cuba has more than 9 million people vaccinated with at least one dose, 6.2 million with a second, 4.95 million with a third and 5 million with a full schedule, totaling more than 20 million doses applied. Health authorities had announced that September would be a decisive month; and indeed, this is being corroborated by Dr. Ileana Morales, Director of Science and Innovation of the Ministry of Public Health. During this month, an average of 200,000 or more doses has been applied daily, but in some days the number of doses exceeded 350,000.

Havana’s policy has been very transparent in the handling of the pandemic and, by virtue of this, the directors and scientists frequently appear before the island’s media to report on the progress of the immunization. It is obvious that at a daily rate of jabs as mentioned above, another million doses may have been applied today and eventually, the country could be getting very close to concluding the universal application of the first dose, including all children from two years of age onwards. For the time being, Havana is on the verge of completing the full vaccination schedule.

Another piece of news: the island has achieved a unique event in the world by having 900,000 thousand children between two and eleven years of age inoculated with the first dose. To these should be added 642,000 adolescents. At this pace Cuba will soon become the first country in the world to start the school year with the vast majority of children vaccinated with a complete vaccination schedule.  This is extraordinary, since just now the the world’s leading laboratories are concluding clinical trials for such early ages. It should be added that the well-known effectiveness of Cuban vaccines is increasing in children and that no adverse reactions have been recorded in their immunization. All this will result in the island achieving a very high degree of immunity when, before the end of the year, almost all of its inhabitants have been vaccinated, except for children under two years of age and a few people who have refused to be immunized, or have not done so for health reasons.

But when one hears Dr. Eulogio Pimentel, deputy director of Biocubafarma, say that 10,000 different assortments of raw materials, reagents and packaging material from some 300 manufacturers located in 30 different countries are required to produce a vaccine, it becomes clear why it is no exaggeration to describe Cuba’s achievement of its own vaccines as a significant feat. Even more so, considering how harassed, it is, by the suffocating economic war of the United States. And it is not only the vaccines, since Cuban science has generated and produced in its plants a good part of the drugs applied to covid patients on the island, which has one of the lowest lethality rates in the world. Cuba has already sent around one million doses of its Abdala vaccine to Vietnam, including 150,000 as a donation. There is an agreement to continue delivering biologicals to the brotherly country and then, through technology transfer, to start their own production there.

It should be emphasized that the island is also the only country that has a vaccine, Soberana Plus, conceived as a booster, which has been applied as a third dose to all those who received the two doses of Soberana 02 -the other compound that has been applied-, whose administration has also been authorized by the regulatory agency with a single dose to those convalescing from covid, since it greatly increases their level of antibodies. Another booster, Soberana 01, is under clinical study.

Cuba shows these extraordinary achievements thanks to its social system with state-owned scientific centers, which cooperate rather than compete with each other, which arose thanks to Fidel Castro’s foresight. It is also supported by a robust public health system with the backing of the social and political organizations of the Revolution, closely linked to the aforementioned centers. It hurts a lot that while millions of expired vaccines are thrown away in rich countries, there are nations that have not been able to apply any of that surplus.

Source: La Pupila Insomne, translation Resumen Latinoamericano –  English