The year 2020 and the beginning of 2021 were extremely difficult due to the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic and the global economic crisis that it generated, and the exacerbation of the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States government on Cuba. People during the Trump administration more than 240 aggressive measures, which are still in effect.
Cuba has not stopped thinking about developing its economy, despite the complex panorama in which it is developing, due to the consequences of the epidemic and the increase in the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States government on our country.
The economy faced an increase in demand for spending, and we had to invest nearly a billion pesos in financing health-related expenditures.
In addition to this, the decrease in foreign exchange inflows into the country, the closure of the borders and the impact of this on the export markets, despite the preservation of the production strategy for export, which is a correct decision.
For us, the national and international economic scenario is characterized by a continuous contraction in international tourism and exports of other services. It is a situation that will not be resolved “overnight”,
Cuba’s experience in combating COVID-19 began before the epidemic hit our continent. The Cabinet presented an analysis by the Political Bureau of the Policy Coordination Committee, and approved, in January 2020, the national measures and plan for the prevention and control of the new Corona virus, based on the capabilities of its free and comprehensive health system, scientific development and the relevant achievements of the pharmaceutical medicine and biotechnology industry. All this allowed us to cope with this disease in better conditions. From a holistic, participatory, systematic, multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach, as well as its human resources, medicines, technologies, and protocols.
These findings are closely related to political will and the ongoing search for social justice. Comprehensive prevention and control measures were immediately adopted. All this was possible thanks to the socialist state, with strong leadership from the party holding its eighth congress and from the government, with high responsibility and political and human sensitivity.
Cuba today allocates 27.5% of its GDP to health and has internationally recognized indicators. Life expectancy at birth of 78.72 years stands out as an average; The infant mortality rate is 4.9 per thousand live births and there are 9 doctors per thousand people.
Disease-appropriate treatment was applied, ensuring the availability and production capacity of the 22 drugs included in the COVID-19 response protocols, with Interferon alfa 2B, which has been added to Biomodulin T, CIGB 258 and the monoclonal antibody ITOLIZUMAB, among others. , Developed by our scientists and the biotechnology industry. Sharing the science was crucial. Research continues on the drugs and five candidate Cuban vaccines, all of which are showing encouraging results.
We were able to successfully stop the spread of the virus through strict population restrictions and an effective health service. Anyone diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection was hospitalized and immediately treated, close contacts isolated and monitored. Now that the numbers have started to rise, we have re-enforced isolation centers for our infected, suspected or infected citizens after surveys, and in hotels for tourists, so that tourists get the PCR results that are performed at the airport, upon entering the country.
On March 2, implementation of the Enhanced Protocol to Respond to Covid-19 began in Havana, which includes the administration of nasalveron at the home level to contacts of positive cases and those living with them.
With the merging of two new molecular biology laboratories in the coming days, one in Sancti Spiritus and the other in the municipality of the private island of La Juventud, the country will reach 27 centers for analyzing samples and studies of patients infected with Coronavirus, a new link network that expands to include the entire country, in contrast to the restrictions associated with the intensification of the blockade in America North and at the will of the state, allowing to expand the PCR processing capacity in more than 22,000 daily tests.
The fact that each of the four high-tech equipment that the laboratory at Guantanamo Bay is equipped with, for example, costs about 128,650 euros, on average, gives an idea of the government effort that required the opening of centers and monitoring authorities in the country to stop the spread of Covid – 19.
The national biopharmaceutical industry is preceded by a history of success that has allowed, for example, to cover the country with 100% in the vaccination program, an indicator that places it at the forefront of the world and has completely eliminated diseases and reduced the spread of diseases. Harm caused by others.
About 30 years ago, a vaccine against meningitis B and C was given in Cuba, the first of its kind on a global scale. Progress in this area is also due to the hepatitis B vaccine, the first vaccine to be certified by the World Health Organization in Latin America.
One should add, among other things, Heberpenta against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and other conditions; In addition to what has been recorded against Haemophilus influenzae type b (similarly the first in Latin America and the second of its kind in the world).
Continuing this historic path of altruistic efforts, Cuban science has worked to search for a vaccine for candidates against Covid.
The vaccines “Superana 02” from the Finlay Institute for Vaccines and “Abdullah” from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) entered the third phase of clinical trials; For the first of these candidates, on March 20, the State Center for Medicines and Medical Devices Control (CECMED) approved an intervention trial that will include 150,000 volunteers.
However, if there are two candidate vaccines that have proven effective and safe thus far, and we hope to demonstrate the greatest effectiveness at this stage of clinical testing, then why do we continue to search for other possible immune pathogens?
Cuba is already preparing for the phenomenon of mutant strains and is predicting alternatives that may have to escape a vaccine response based on the various candidates and vaccines that have already been approved.
Another candidate vaccine, Mambisa, could be very effective as a booster dose and in convalescence. One of the immune helper antigens, in the case of “Mambisa”, is one of the antigens in this vaccine. One of the novelties in this candidate vaccine is nasal immunization. This candidate vaccine redirects to areas of application, such as convalescence, where it can be used for booster doses.
There are several strategies to try to combat the virus mutation problem. The simplest of them is to have high levels of immunity. Cuban vaccines have this advantage because they are recombinant, because, if necessary, booster doses of the vaccine can be administered to maintain high levels of antibodies. There are limited other techniques in this regard.
Our candidates enjoy these benefits, but we are working on candidate vaccines based on mutant viruses. That is, we can replace or add an existing candidate vaccine and protein with the mutation.
Additionally, work is underway to develop vaccines that rely on cellular responses. It is another type of vaccine candidate that is more preventive via, cross-reactivity; That is, it can protect against different strains, because the cellular response is more conserved than the antibody response between different strains.
The Cuban biotechnology industry, established internationally, has characteristics that define it, something that specialist publications such as nature In the last years. What happens is this is a government sector. It’s the big difference. Cuban companies operate in the sector as if they had 11 million shareholders. There is cooperation and expression, not competition. Another difference is the interconnectedness of the public health system.
We have the capacity to develop the vaccine, and at the same time, a health system that supports you in delivering the vaccine to the population, in detecting and monitoring patients. This is just as important as the vaccine.
It is exceptional internationally to have five vaccinations against Covid-19. But in Cuba, this has happened since the 1980s, with the biological front that the historical leader of the revolution, Fidel Castro, promoted in 1981.
This is exactly why so little is said or known about our vaccines. a News diary Joins Washington Post To put the truth of the Cuban scientific effort, also blocked, into the knowledge of the public.
Ambassador of Cuba to Portugal