Cuba a Leader in Covid-19 Vaccines for Young Children

Mary Beth Sheridan / The Washington Post

HAVANA — Long before he was declared a U.S. national security threat, Vicente Vérez was a Cuban chemist who loved kids.

His specialty was vaccines. In the 1990s, he helped create an inexpensive vaccine targeting the bacteria known as haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib, which had been killing children under 5. It was a global hit. So when covid-19 came along, Vérez knew what he had to do. — Read More —

If unable to read past paywall, a synopsis:

  • Most of Cuba’s youth were vaccinated months ago; Soberana 02, for children as young as 2, is half of the pair of homemade vaccines that have tamed covid-19 in Cuba
  • Swift creation of a safe, effective vaccine is always a challenge; for Cuba, the obstacles were even greater, including: U.S. sanctions (orders for equipment/supplies specific to the effort were subject cancellation by companies worried about violating the long-standing U.S. embargo), global supply chain problems (a shortage of syringes was such that Cuba had to seek international donations), and the broader economic effects of closing borders to international travel and other infection precautions
  • Keys to success included global sharing of data, as well as a 30-year history of developing and manufacturing vaccines domestically. The team of approx. 400 created, tested and rolled out the Cuban vaccines (the shot given adults is called Abdala)
  • Soberana 02 launched in September 2021; since then 1.7 million youth, aged 2-18, have been vaccinated
  • Cuba canceled its mask mandate in June, after “nearly three weeks without a covid-19 death”
  • Both Cuban vaccines are in the process of review and approval through the World Health Organization (WHO); results for Phase I and II of clinical trials have been published and peer review is pending for Phase III
  • In advance of WHO approval, Cuba’s vaccines have received regulatory approval in Mexico, Iran and Vietnam
  • Poorer countries stand to benefit from international approval of Abdala and Soberana 02, as transportation and storage are easier (they do not require the ultracold temperatures of some other vaccines)

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