Cuba’s COVID-19 vaccines

Cuba's COVID-19 vaccines enter final stages of development.

Cuba is developing four Covid-19 vaccines, one of which, Soberana-02 is in stage three clinical trials, the last step before being approved for mass use. The Finlay Institute in Cuba plans to produce 100 million doses of Soberana-02 vaccines but, prior to exporting, it will focus on the domestic market. The main goal of the Cuban government is to vaccinate its population throughout 2021.

Nevertheless, Cuba will struggle to export its vaccine as heavy sanctions imposed by the US, significantly increased during the Trump administration, constrain most Western companies from doing business in the pharma sector in the country. Unfortunately, even if the vaccine proves successful, we are unlikely to see Cuba increasing its diplomatic standing with the US.

A Russian-educated Cuban security expert despaired, “If someone in Washington dared to draw up a ‘List of countries that sponsor Solidarity and Life’, Cuba would undoubtedly come first place. The nomination of the Cuban Medical Brigade ‘Henry Reeve’ for the Nobel Peace Prize (2020), for services to patients with COVID-19 in 39 nations is an overwhelming proof.”

“If someone in Washington dared to draw up a ‘List of countries that sponsor Solidarity and Life’, Cuba would undoubtedly come first place.”

Russian-educated Cuban security expert, Cuba

The Pan American Health Organisation (OPS), affiliated to the WHO, has shown optimism on the Soberana-02 vaccine which, in addition to Cuba, will also be tested in Mexico. A doctor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical said that there is no reason to be suspicious of Soberana-02 but emphasised that it had to go through all required standard international tests and get the findings published in scientific magazines prior to proving its efficacy.

A Cuban medic and researcher working on Soberna-02 commented, “The most beautiful thing about our vaccine project is that, for the first time, we have felt that all the knowledge that we have accumulated has been applied to something of practical utility.”

“For the first time, we have felt that all the knowledge that we have accumulated has been applied to something of practical utility.”

Medic and researcher working on Soberna-02, Cuba

As part of the collaboration with other countries in the development of vaccines against COVID-19, 100,000 doses of Soberana-02 were sent to the Pasteur Institute of Iran, to be used in clinical trials. Upon its confirmation of the efficacy of Soberana-02, the mass production will take place in Iran and Cuba.

The executives of BioCubaFarma, the state business group responsible for research and development of vaccines, suggested that Cuba can manufacture 100 million doses in 2021, enough to protect the 11 million Cubans living in the island and export the remaining vaccines to countries such as Iran, India, Pakistan, Venezuela, Bolivia and Vietnam.

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