On October 23, 2020, a man stands next to the Cuban flag near the Melia Varadero International Hotel in Matanzas Province. Varadero, Cuba’s most important beach resort, has reopened international tourism amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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Cuba’s most advanced Covid-1
Among the four vaccines under development in Cuba, the most promising candidate is called Soberana02. The name of the vaccine is translated from Spanish to “sovereignty”, which ostensibly expresses Cuba’s national pride in its world-renowned health system.
Soberana 02 will enter Phase 3 of the trial on March 1. Officials said the test will include up to 150,000 volunteers in a few weeks. The Phase 3 trial is the final stage before the vaccine is finally approved by the national regulatory agency.
On this occasion, many people in Cuba were forced to wait in line for hours to buy basic goods, and as the authorities continued to deal with the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, former President Donald Trump (Donald Trump) in recent years Further intensified sanctions.
Helen Yaffe, a Cuban expert and lecturer in economics and social history at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, told CNBC over the phone: “This is an incredible dichotomy.”
Yaffe said: “On the one hand, you have this high-tech biotechnology field, which brings a lot of hope to the global South because it is an affordable vaccine possibility-(and) vaccinating the global South will It’s a top priority.”
“At the same time, Cubans get up at four or five in the morning to line up because they really lack basic food and even medicine.”
What do we know about Soberana 02?
Cuba’s largest biopharmaceutical institution, the Cuban Finlay Institute, is overseeing the development of Soberana 02. The director of the institute, Dr. Vicente Verez, hinted that the vaccine could be provided to tourists later this year.
If Soberana 02 is found to be safe and effective, the development of a domestic vaccine will be hailed as an amazing scientific breakthrough and a major political victory. It will also make Cuba the first Latin American country to use a domestic vaccine to immunize its population.
On January 20, 2021, technician Mayelin Mejias works at the vaccine aseptic and packaging processing plant of the Finlay Vaccine Institute in Havana.
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The government has not formulated a specific plan for tourists to vaccinate, but analysts say that foreigners traveling to Cuba may receive the first dose of the vaccine on the island and then receive the subsequent vaccine to take home.
Although publicly available data are limited, it is believed that up to three doses of vaccine can be given every two weeks.
Yaffe is also “We are Cuba! : Author of How Revolutionaries Survive in the Post-Soviet World. He said that Cuba’s advanced medical system will help the country quickly “extremely” launch this vaccine.
Yaffe said: “I can promise. If they get the vaccine every two weeks, they can get the vaccine within one month of starting.”
“By the summer, people will be very eager to go on vacation, and I think Cuba nominates itself as an ideal destination. People are already talking about sun, ocean, beach and Soberana02. So if I am surprised by this, people end up going to Cuba to seek Vaccine, I believe Cubans will provide this vaccine.”
How does it work?
Soberana 02 vaccine is a combination vaccine. This is a vaccine that carries a portion of spike protein that binds or binds to human cells to enhance its stability and effectiveness.
Unlike other coronavirus vaccine candidates (such as Pfizer-BioNTech, etc.), Soberana 02 does not require additional cold storage requirements. This may simplify the logistical and administrative challenges associated with vaccination programs in low-income countries.
On February 2, 2021, as Covid-19 cases surged in the island country, people lined up to buy food in Havana.
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In a virtual meeting hosted by the Pan American Health Organisation on February 5, Dr. Verez said that Soberana 02 had returned “encouraging results” in the early stages of testing. He added that vaccination has not yet produced any major adverse reactions.
The Cuban government has stated that it will produce 100 million doses of Soberana 02 this year to meet the needs of its own country and other countries. Its goal is to become one of the first countries in the world to vaccinate the entire population in 2021, despite the fact that many advanced countries began to vaccinate jabs nearly two months ago.
Several countries have expressed interest in purchasing this vaccine, such as Vietnam, Iran, Venezuela and the African Union, which represent all 55 countries in Africa.
Compared with other countries in the region, Cuba has recorded relatively few Covid cases, and the number of infections and deaths has risen sharply in recent weeks. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Cuba has so far recorded 45,361 coronavirus cases and 300 deaths.
“One of the best kept secrets in the world”
Cuba has long been known for its medical diplomacy, and thousands of professional staff have been sent abroad to help countries deal with short-term crises, natural disasters and medical emergencies.
Human rights organizations expressed concern that the Cuban government invoked the right to privacy, freedom, and freedom of speech and association to impose repressive rules on doctors working abroad.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, it was estimated that Cuba had 24,500 medical staff in 58 countries. Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade has another 4,000 members, a group of respected health professionals who have already worked in Kuwait, Mexico, Italy, and South Africa.
Cuban doctors accepted the welcoming ceremony of Cuban health workers at the welcoming ceremony of Cuban health workers in Cape Town, South Africa on May 24, 2020. They were sent to the Western Cape to support efforts to fight COVID-19.
Misha Jordaan | Gallo Images via Getty Images
This is a deep-rooted tradition, which means that more than 11 million countries have more medical staff working abroad than all the Group of Seven (G-7) countries combined.
John Kirk, a professor of the Latin American Program at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, told CNBC via e-mail: “This is an extraordinary record, mainly unknown to the mainstream media. It is the world’s best-preserved record. One of the intact secrets.”
He added: “Medical internationalism is Cuba’s DNA. In fact, the preamble of the Cuban Constitution mentions Cuba’s commitment to share its medical talents with developing countries.”