Around 700 people will be the first to begin testing the vaccine that is being developed in Cuba against the coronavirus on Monday.
Authorities and scientists on the island – where the impact of covid-19 has been less than in other Latin American countries – made the announcement on August 18 and christened the project Sovereign 01.
If all the testing phases are completed and if its safety and efficiency can be demonstrated, it could be the first coronavirus vaccine developed in Latin America.
The scientists who developed Sovereign 01 are optimistic, although there are also voices outside the island calling for caution.
The first to receive the vaccine will be between 18 and 80 years old, and this phase of human testing will last until the end of October.
In the first phase, the vaccine will be administered to 20 people between 19 and 59 years old. A week later it will be received by another 20 in ages between 60 and 80 years
From September 11, the number of volunteers will be expanded to 676 tests, according to the official newspaper Granma.
Participants will receive two doses of the formula and the monitoring of their evolution in “safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity” will be in charge of the Finay Institute.
For most of the vaccines currently being tested in the world, the last two phases of testing involve hundreds and sometimes thousands of people.
“That is the way to go. We managed to overcome the first step in three months. A step that, in terms of coronavirus, is an important step,” said Vérez Bencomo in an interview with Cuban television.
At least 150 immunization formulas are developed in different countries to contain the pandemic.
Russia and China have registered vaccines, although both are questioned by experts because of the speed of the process and the lack of massive tests.
The challenges of Cuba
These filters require technical and technological capacity, but also logistics, “he says.” data-reactid = “99”> “They may have the scientific and technological capacity, another thing is to develop a vaccine that passes all the safety and effectiveness filters. These filters require technical and technological capacity, but also logistics, “he says.
The doctor adds that the logistical aspect may be where Cuba has some problems since it is not part of the public and private circuits between governments and pharmaceutical companies around the world.
“There is great global collaboration and perhaps Cuba has less access to these scientific networks,” he adds.
Lobelo maintains that he “would not trust” a vaccine that has not been first tested in thousands of people and with the different safety studies. That is the challenge facing Cuba, according to him.
For the Cuban authorities, having their own vaccine is a matter of sovereignty.
The researcher emphasizes that it is important that there are different vaccine formulas because they may have different levels of effectiveness in population groups by age, health conditions or geographic location.
grab the machete and compete for that vaccine, “he said on Cuban television on August 20.” data-reactid = “132”> “We already had the knowledge, we knew we had to grab the machete and compete for that vaccine, “he said on Cuban television on August 20.
This vaccine candidate, said the researcher, presents “low risks, few uncertainties and encouraging results in the preclinical phase” carried out in rabbits and mice.
The scientist added that “Sovereign is the first (candidate) in Latin America and the first in a country poor in economic resources, but great in spirit.”
“It is also the reason why we have achieved it,” he concluded.
Cuba baptized its vaccine as Sovereign 01.
In the meeting with the island’s scientists, Díaz-Canel recalled a previous meeting in May in which he gave his arguments for Cuba to develop its own formula.
sovereignty“, he claimed.” data-reactid = “160”> “Although there are vaccines from other countries, we need ours to have sovereignty“, he claimed.
Until August 23, Cuba reported 3,717 confirmed infections and 91 deaths from covid-19 since the virus arrived on the island in March.
In the past few days, the island began conducting an average of around 4,000 daily coronavirus tests.
Covid-19 patients in that country are treated with drugs that are mostly developed or produced by the Cuban biopharmaceutical industry.
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