No Informed Consent for Vaccine Trials in Cuba

By Benjamin Noria

A nurse gives a volunteer a shot of the Soberana 02 vaccine developed in Cuba and still in its clinical trial phase. Photo: Jorge Luis Baños / AFP

HAVANA TIMES – Informed consent is the procedure that is used to inform a person selected for a clinical trial about the objectives, benefits, risks, rights and options to get their approval to voluntarily take part in the study.

From what I’ve seen, this informed consent procedure isn’t taking place at vaccine centers for vaccine trial subjects in Cuba. At every session with the UN, the government has said that they respect the Cuban people’s human rights. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

During the time I spent at the vaccine center, I saw over 50 people pass by doctors who welcomed the participants, but nobody informed them about the risks of being injected with these potential vaccines. The participants’ blood pressure was taken, and a brief anamnesis was jotted down, and they were then told to sign a series of forms. Nobody was given an explanation or description (albeit brief) of what the clinical trial was for and its secondary effects.

I didn’t see any Cuban with the chance to exercise their right to reject participation in the clinical trial. Nobody could have doubts for a second and change their mind about getting one of these potential vaccines administered. I didn’t see anyone with the chance to express their wish to choose a different outcome.

I believe that Cubans are going to get injected with a trial vaccine because they are afraid of government reprisals. Nobody is aware of the future consequences of these dubious potential vaccines. Plus, Cubans have the habit of blindly trusting government information, as they have been victims of mind control for over 60 years.  They have been trained not to question anything. While the Castro government is the owner of mass media, there will only be one opinion: their own and there’s no room for another.

Luckily, nothing bad has happened yet, and if something had happened, I’m sure that they would have covered it up, and because Cuba doesn’t have freedom of the press or private TV, it’s very easy to misinform the population.

In spite of lessons learned from what happened during the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the US and the Nuremberg Trials, in Germany, for example, the Cuban government continues to do what’s in their best interests. The Castro government is Cuban absolutism. They don’t give accountability to anyone in the country. The totalitarianism they’ve established here has no bounds. They have transformed vaccine trials into a political show.

Informed consent was established as an international practice for a reason. To respect people’s right to life and their freedom to choose what is right for them. Many wars had to take place in order for the world to conquer these individual, civil and political freedoms that eras of regression and fundamentalist and nationalist countries have denied humans.

Humankind has lived a long history of crimes and painful injustice to be able to understand the benefits that basic rights grant them in preserving their wellbeing. 

Read more from Benjamin Noria here.

4 thoughts on “No Informed Consent for Vaccine Trials in Cuba

  • The persons who showed up at the vaccination centres knew that they were going there to be vaccinated they were not forced to go there, so why would there be a need for informed consent procedure and why would they show up and then refuse to be vaccinated…… you are biased and you are writing about the Cuban citizens as if they are such idiots that they cannot make an informed decision…. this article is obviously an example of poor journalism.

  • This is so biased and untrue, such bad journalism. Did you even speak to any of the cubans there? Cause I have talked to many family members taking part and this article is completely untrue. Partcipating in the vaccination trials is completely voluntary, and people are definetly given informed consent before being vaccinated, as well as medical interviews before the day and then are followed-up by their family doctor to check for any side effects, etc. The cuban goverment might be terrible in other respects, but when it comes to public health they’re usually decent. This article should be retracted, it makes this site completely loose any credibility.

  • I just asked (6/11/2021) an independent journalist living in Havana if citizens are being provided with information before recieving the COVID vaccine and afforded the option of informed consent before having the vaccine. He responded that not as far as he has witnessed or heard to date. This is in line with what happens at blood banks that collect blood donations from citizens –typically, no information of potential risks is provided before the blood is collected. If true, both are violations of widely accepted international standards.

  • This article is really offensive. I participated in the vaccine trial in the location that you use the picture from. You should know if you had done any research that before getting to the day of the vaccine there are several steps. Before agreeing to participate in the trial I was given a informed consent form that was read to me I was given the opportunity to ask any questions and signed it. They did a medical history interview at that time and a preliminary coronavirus test. I was then told what day to come to the Vaccination center. Both my wife and I were very excited to be able to participate in the trial. We hope that by participating we can help this vaccine be tested and approved quickly so that more people in Cuba and in the world can be protected. This is sloppy journalism and very biased. Did you even interview anyone there?

    Also, in my case I had specific questions about the management of the placebo group and asked to speak to someone who can answer my questions at the site that you have pictured. I spoke to the Director of the clinical trial who patiently explained to me until all my questions were answered. Such a disappointing article.

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