Vaccines from China Arrive in Cuba

Havana photo by Juan Suarez

China’s Sinopharm Vaccine Arrives in Cuba to Accelerate the Immunization Process

By 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES — In a twist that contradicts all previous statements by the Cuban authorities about the country’s self-sufficiency in immunization, this Sunday the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine will begin to be administered to 400,000 residents of the province of Cienfuegos who are 19 and older.

Vicente Vérez Bencomo, general director of the Finlay Vaccine Institute (IFV), explained that the immunization will include two doses of Sinopharm and a booster dose of Soberana Plus. Public Health “redefined” new “vaccination strategy” in order to “protect faster the population,” reported on its website Radio City Sea.

The Chinese vaccine “has been recommended by the World Health Organization,” it has an efficacy of 79% and there is “availability and guarantee for the doses required in a population considered small like that of Cienfuegos,” justified Vérez.

For Amílcar Pérez-Riverol, a Cuban virologist based in Brazil, the island “has fallen far short of its initial projections for mass vaccination.” In an analysis published this Saturday, the scientist stated that the health authorities had planned to immunize 70% of the population with the three doses of Soberana 02 and Abdala, however, at the end of this month, the figure is “2.5 times lower.’’

Pérez-Riverol explained that the problems come from previous months, such as July, where the projection of 33.5% was not met, not even “considering the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose of the vaccines.” The virologist said that although it was announced that “production” of Soberana is resumed and that this month there could be millions of doses, the crisis is happening today, indeed, yesterday. No tomorrow.”

“It seems clear to me that the decision to apply the Sinopharm vaccine in Cienfuegos is associated with limitations in the availability of doses of Cuban vaccines and the urgency caused by the explosion of cases,” he said.

This Friday the State newspaper Granma published that Cuba “is in a position to produce 10 million doses of the anticovid-19 Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus vaccines” developed by the Finlay Institute. As reported by the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) “the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (IFA) is ready to carry out the production of these immunogens.”

Verez said that Cienfuegos will probably be the first province to vaccinate almost the entire adult and pediatric population at the same time, since adolescents between 12 and 18 years of age in the provincial capital will also be immunized with two doses of Sovereign 02 and one of Soberana Plus.

For his part, Yury Valdés Balbin, deputy director of the IFV, said that the objective is to bring the province to “a peak position of optimal immune response” and assured that not many regions of the world “can have the luxury that will now be afforded Cienfuegos, to be able to apply mass vaccination to its population.”

At the beginning of August, when Ciego de Ávila registered a peak of covid-19 infections, several complaints arrived at the 14ymedio Newsroom from people who said they wanted to be immunized with a Chinese vaccine. The information came from a meeting of the temporary working group for the pandemic in which, according to one of the participants, the option of immunizing Ciego de Avila with the foreign antidote was mentioned.

Since then, readers have directly asked journalists from Invasor, the local newspaper, about the alleged vaccination with Sinovac or another of the Chinese vaccines, and demanded transparent information and, although no explanation was given, they were not denied the rumor.

“You can be sure that the moment we have that information we will publish it. What we cannot do is publish unconfirmed or official information,” a newspaper editor replied to those who were asked to clarify what they considered an “open secret.”

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.


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