Cuba approved its second homegrown COVID-19 vaccinefor emergency use
A drug regulator in Cuba had granted an emergency use authorization for its second homegrown COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, allowing the vaccine’s full inclusion in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program as it raced to curb a Delta variant-fueled COVID-19 outbreak.
The Soberana 2 vaccine, which Cuba said has an efficacy rate of 91.2 percent, had already been used to inoculate some health workers and ordinary citizens in areas with high transmission rates as part of early intervention studies.
Approval by the Cuba-based Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment, and Medical Devices (CECMED) means that the said vaccine, comprised of two initial doses and a booster shot, can be included in the national vaccination program and could also help licensing abroad.
Reuters reported that Cuba’s healthcare system had been overwhelmed by the recent coronavirus outbreak, struggling with a lack of medicines, oxygen, equipment, and doctors. Just a quarter of the population of around 11 million had been fully vaccinated.
Currently, Cuba has one of the highest rates of officially confirmed coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths per capita in the world, even though it managed to keep both low for much of last year.
According to reports from different provinces, the real numbers were likely even higher as the latest coronavirus outbreak had outpaced its testing capacity.
State-run newspaper Invasor reported that Health Minister Jose Angel Portal said this week that the official COVID-19 death toll likely fell short because it only included those who had formally tested positive for COVID-19 before death.
It was last month when the Soberana 2 vaccine was approved for emergency use in Iran, which struck a deal with Cuba to produce the said vaccine on an industrial scale in the Islamic republic.
Abdala, a second locally produced vaccine that Cuba said has a 92.28 percent efficacy rate, was approved by the Cuban regulator for emergency use last month.