Cuba vaccinated the most against Covid-19, more than most of the big rich countries
Cuba has vaccinated more of its citizens against Covid-19 than most of the world’s largest and wealthiest nations, a step that will make the poor, communist-ruled country a test case as the highly contagious variant of Omicron begins to go around the world.
The Caribbean island has vaccinated over 90% of its population with at least one dose, and 83% of the population is now fully vaccinated, placing it second in the world behind the United Arab Emirates among countries in less 1 million inhabitants, according to an official. statistics compiled by “Our world in data”.
What is the secret of Cuba? As many of its Latin American neighbors, as well as emerging economies around the world, compete for vaccines produced by the wealthiest countries, health officials say Cuba has taken the lead in developing his own.
Infections and deaths from Covid-19 have plunged the island in recent weeks, falling to less than 1% of their peak on August 22, when less than half of its citizens were vaccinated.
Almost all Cuban children between the ages of 2 and 18 have now been vaccinated with locally grown vaccines.
Schools have reopened and foreign tourists are welcome again. Hospitals and morgues, overflowing in August, appear to be functioning at pre-pandemic levels, Reuters witnesses said.
“This is a truly remarkable achievement, given the size of Cuba, and also the US embargo, which restricts their ability to import,” said William Moss, director of the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center, an academic group based in the United States that works to ensure equitable access to low-income countries.
Cuba has said its local protein injections Abdala, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus offer up to 90% protection against symptomatic Covid-19 when offered in three-dose regimens.
However, Cuba has yet to publish the results of its large-scale clinical trials in peer-reviewed journals, nor submit the documents required by the World Health Organization for approval of its vaccines, according to the count. WHO online.
As a result, some public health experts in other countries remain reluctant to recommend them until the results are verified.
The vaccines, which can be produced affordably and do not require freezing, are seen by international health officials as a potential source of much-needed doses in low-income countries in Latin America, Africa and Africa. ‘Asia.
“They have been slow to release the results,” Moss said. “If (the vaccines) got WHO qualification… it could be very important globally. “
Cuba’s progress is monitored by COVAX, a global program designed to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Cuba is also investigating whether the Omicron variant, which was first reported on the island on December 8, will have an impact on protection.
Over the past week, new research has shown that some of the world’s most widely used vaccines are likely to be less protective against infection with Omicron. The injections should remain effective against serious illness and death.
The documents and data needed to verify the Soberana vaccines, developed by Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute, will be delivered to WHO in the first quarter of 2022, Vicente Verez, director of Finlay, told Reuters.
Verez said WHO standards, which assess not only the vaccine but also manufacturing facilities, have slowed Cuba.
“It’s a first world standard,” Verez said, noting the expense involved in bringing the facilities up to this level. “We need to advance our manufacturing process to make sure that when we apply, we get WHO prequalification.”
Cuba’s biotech industry began to develop in the 1980s, supported by the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who saw the sector as vital to the self-sufficiency of the communist nation in the face of the US embargo. But some of its facilities are aging.
Verez said Cuba is negotiating with Canada and Italy to produce its vaccines in those countries for export to regions in need, including Africa.
Brazilian virologist Amilcar Perez Riverol has said Cuba will face a new test with Omicron.
High vaccination rates, a large group that have acquired immunity against a previous infection, as well as Cuba’s early decision to fully inoculate its children “puts the country in a really positive position in the face of the future course of the pandemic. “Said Perez Riverol.
But he said Cuba’s relatively large elderly population, lack of medical supplies and a faltering health system still make it vulnerable.
“In any case, it is not yet time to proclaim victory,” he said.