Cuba will be among the first countries to immunize its entire population.

Juventud Rebelde | Thursday, 4 February 2021 | Click here for original article

Cuba develops four vaccine candidates against COVID-19.

The confidence that Cuba will be one of the first countries that will be able to immunize its entire population from its existing capacities of production and distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 came this Thursday at the Round Table, dedicated to the subject.

Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of BioCubaFarma, explained this while speaking on the radio-TV program, together with Marta Ayala Ávila, general director of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; Vicente Vérez Bencomo, general director of the Finlay Institute of Vaccines, and Eduardo Ojito Magaz, general director of the Center for Molecular Immunology.

Likewise, Mr. Martínez Díaz pointed out that they have already been analyzed and organized for their programming until next December, once the studies of the four vaccine candidates yield the expected satisfactory results.

He said that our scientists are working on four vaccine candidates at the same time because they all use the same type of antigen, so that the desired immune response can be achieved in all cases.

In addition, he explained that all the genetic information has been inserted in bacteria, yeast and cells of higher organisms, such as mammals, and that in the latest variants encouraging results were achieved which allowed advancing in that direction. Each one will differentiate the formulation of the vaccines, based on platforms used in previous vaccines with marked effectiveness and safety.

The President of BioCubaFarma said that “the vaccines are working well”, but we still cannot say that they are effective, “that is why we have to continue with the studies. We cannot bet on a variant and then the studies not give the expected results. In that case, we would have to start all over again”.

He emphasized that the production of several vaccines could be deployed at the same time, in case the expected results were obtained in all of them, and then the doses would be studied, according to each population group, as well as the possibility of assigning some of them to the treatment of COVID-19 convalescents.

He pointed out that, as an advantage, Cuban vaccines do not require large refrigeration chains, but temperatures of two to eight degrees Celsius. In addition, they allow for the application of successive booster doses, which is essential in view of the appearance of new variants of the virus.

Martinez Diaz insisted that it is not possible to acquire vaccines produced by other countries because there is not enough quantity to do so. “To date, only 108 million doses have been applied, which means that only a little more than one percent of the population has been vaccinated. Only 13 countries have applied more than one million doses of vaccine, including the United States and China.”

He stressed the need for an increase in the global vaccination rate and for prices to fall, so that the entire population has the possibility of protecting itself, including those living in poor countries.

Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.

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