Almost the entire population of Havana, the capital of Cuba, should be immunized by the end of May with an experimental vaccine against Covid-19 developed in the country, according to plans by the local government.
Meanwhile, the Soberana 02 vaccine, which has not yet been fully certified, is already being applied to health professionals on the island.
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This month the country began the last phase of testing with two of the five vaccines it is developing in its territory, called Soberana 02 and Abdala.
As part of the tests, the authorities want to vaccinate 1.7 million inhabitants of Havana (out of a total of about 2 million) until May, according to Ileana Morales, director of science and technological innovation at the Ministry of Health.
In a state-run television broadcast, Morales said that in June the competent health agencies will be asked to use Soberana 02 and Abdala on an emergency basis.
“With the approval of emergency use, we would be on the way to a massive vaccination of the population,” he said.
It is expected that by August 6 million people in the country have been immunized, and that by the end of the year vaccines will reach all 11 million inhabitants of Cuba.
The country is registering between 600 and 1,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day, well above last year’s average, according to the Reuters news agency.
The most worrying level of infections is in the capital, with 292 cases for every 100 thousand inhabitants – against 103.5 in the national average, according to Deputy Minister of Health, Carilda Peña.
However, since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has accounted for 68,250 cases and 401 deaths, one of the lowest per capita rates in the world.
“Still, the communist government has been criticized for not ordering doses of other coronavirus vaccines available around the world, such as those produced in Russia and China, that could have been applied to healthcare professionals while Sovereign was still being developed.”
Projeto Soberana 02 appears to be at the forefront of vaccines tested in Cuba – Photo: Getty Images via BBC
Cuba has a solid track record in vaccine development, producing their own immunization against meningitis B in the late 1980s.
Of the five Cuban immunization projects against Covid-19, Sovereign 02 appears to be in the lead. It adds the tetanus toxin to the protein with which the virus invades human cells, in a safe dosage so that it does not cause a real infection.
Thus, when the virus tries to enter the cell, the conjugated toxin generates a reaction of the body’s defense system that ends up preventing infection.
Other countries in Latin America, especially Venezuela, Mexico and Jamaica, have already shown interest in purchasing the vaccines that are being developed in Cuba.
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