HAVANA | Cuba now has two vaccines fully developed by scientists in the country, after the authorization for use on Friday of its Soberana, announced Friday the drug regulatory authority (Cecmed).
The announcement comes as the island experiences a high incidence rate of COVID-19 infections, a month after the authorization of Abdala, Latin America’s first vaccine.
“This was possible after a rigorous evaluation process” over the past few weeks, in which “all the results related to the effectiveness and efficiency of the vaccine were evaluated,” said Olga Lidia Jacobo, director of the vaccine. Cecmed.
Soberana, which Cuban health authorities say has 91.2% effectiveness against symptomatic cases, is part of a vaccination program that combines two doses of Soberana 02 and a third of Soberana Plus.
Injections of Soberana and Abdala, also a three-dose vaccine, began in May in Cuba as part of a public health intervention reserved for the most affected areas.
Just over three million Cubans received three doses of the Soberana or Abdala vaccines, 4.3 million received two doses and 4.8 million received one dose.
Infections soared in July, and in some provinces across the country, oxygen shortages were reported.
In the past 24 hours, 9,764 cases and 78 deaths have been recorded, bringing the total number of cases to 564,011 and deaths to 4,397.
Cuba intends to vaccinate all of its 11.2 million inhabitants by the end of the year and also hopes to sell its formulas abroad.
Venezuela, which has bought 12 million doses, is already administering Abdala. Iran has already approved the emergency use of Soberana after testing it on its territory. Argentina, Vietnam and Mexico have also expressed interest.
A green light from the WHO is not necessary for these bilateral agreements.
The advantage of Cuban vaccines, whose composition is based on a recombinant protein – the same technique used by the American company Novavax -, is that “they can be stored between two and eight degrees, an advantage in Latin America where, unfortunately, refrigeration at a high level (necessary for other vaccines, editor’s note) is difficult, ”said Amilcar Pérez-Riverol, a Cuban researcher from the Fapesp Foundation, at the State University of Sao Paulo.
Subject to an American embargo since 1962, Cuba began to design its own vaccines in the 1980s. Today, 80% of those included in its vaccination program are manufactured in its territory.