Cuba started vaccinating children as young as two against COVID-19 at the beginning of September after its health regulator, the Centre for State Control of Medicines and Medical Devices, gave the green light.
Cuba has been developing its own vaccines, reported a former adviser to the Ministry of Health of Cuba, “Cuba is developing five vaccines, two of which have already been approved by the World Health Organisation (“WHO”). The Pan American Health Organisation (“PAHO”) has also recognised Cuba’s efforts against COVID-19, as there continue to be fewer deaths than most regions of Brazil and Mexico. The aspiration is to have 80% of the population vaccinated by the end of October without depending upon any multinational laboratories or companies.”
“Cuba is developing five vaccines, two of which have already been approved by the WHO.”
Former adviser to the Ministry of Health of Cuba, Havana
By mid-September, Cuba reported an average of 70 new infections for every 100,000 residents as the Delta variant spread across the island. By vaccinating children, the government aims to curb the spike in cases that prevented the reopening of schools, which are now expected to re-start in November.
A retired infectious disease expert in Havana commented, “There is no evidence that vaccinating minors with the Cuban vaccines poses any more danger than other vaccines approved by the WHO. There are genuine concerns that new strains of the virus could emerge and threaten the unvaccinated population, which is mostly the young, so we have to do something about that.”
“There are genuine concerns that new strains of the virus could emerge and threaten the unvaccinated population, which is mostly the young, so we have to do something about that.”
Retired infectious disease expert, Havana
Cuban officials affirmed that they have shared data with the WHO to receive approval for their vaccines with the aim of exporting the local Abdala and Soberana 02 jabs. Both vaccines are based on recombinant protein technology, the same as that used by Novavax, which does not require extreme refrigeration. However, Cuban vaccines are still pending international, scientific peer review.
State-run vaccine producers are awaiting approval from international authorities to start production for exports. Argentina and Mexico have already shown interest in acquiring Cuban vaccines, Venezuela has already signed a purchase contract and Iran is interested in locally producing Soberana 02.
At the regional level, Chile also started vaccination of children aged six with Sinovac although the WHO has only approved the Pfizer jab for children and adolescents. At the same time, the PAHO warned in mid-September about the increased hospitalisation of children in the region and the future health risks derived from the infection.
Cuba is also looking beyond its own borders, the health adviser highlighted, “We need an international view because migration is a huge regional issue and can result in transnational chains of contagion – the US knows this and has closed its borders. Cuba is working with migrant expelling countries and Mexico to vaccinate migrants, whether they are Mexican or just passing through.”