Saturday, June 3, 2023

Cuba developing Covid-19 vaccine

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Cuba is the single country in the Caribbean and Latin America region recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the development of an possibly effective vaccine against the Covid-19 virus.

There are more than 200 candidates on trial for a vaccine, however, merely 30 countries, including Cuba, have been authorized by the WHO to go into the second phase with clinical trials.

The vaccine is being developed by the Finlay de Vacunas Institute. The vaccine has already been administered to the institute’s director and vice-director. In the space of three months, Cuba has succeeded in developing a vaccine, despite the brutal economic embargo under which it is subjected.

The name for the vaccine is Soberana (Finlay-FR-1). The name is based upon two foundations of the Cuban Revolution, namely sovereignty and solidarity. “By this we want to make it clear to the world that Cuba has the fortitude and reason to sustain its revolution and that, despite the economic embargoes, the country shall not surrender.” said one of the doctors working in the process.

Cuba has a very long tradition of excellent health care. As early as 1959, Commander Fidel Castro decided to make education and health more efficient and effective. In addition, Cuba has already developed a number of vaccines against tropical diseases. Therefore the country has expertise in virology, biology and diseases globally. 

Cuba’s top health care is not self-evident. Scientific research costs time and money. Cuba suffers under an economic embargo that has lasted for more than 50 years. A year after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, as many as 50% of Cuban doctors left the country. At that time, Cuba had to ask itself some existential questions and decided to devote its limited and scarce economic resources in mass  education and health care.

More than 40% of GDP goes to the fields of education and health care. In 1959 there were only three universities in Cuba. Thirty per cent of the population was illiterate. Nowadays there is no illiteracy in Cuba and universities have been established in almost all provinces. Between 30% and 40% of the Cuban population have a master’s degree from a university.

Their Faculty of Medicine moreover provides scholarships to students from other Latin American countries. There are students arriving from all over the world to study medicine in Cuba. In fact, every year, Cuba gives ten or so scholarships to students from poor neighbourhoods in the USA. 

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