It is the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to have a possible vaccine against coronavirus in the clinical trial phase.
Cuba’s science and biotechnology are among the most advanced in the Americas, and this has placed the country in a privileged position in terms of vaccine development compared to other neighboring countries. They already have extensive experience in developing vaccines for other diseases, and in order to fight COVID-19, they have managed to launch four types of vaccines in a development stage.
This week in Cuba there was a round table event where the president of the BioCubaFarma business group, Eduardo Martínez Díaz, in charge of giving several keys to Cuba’s fight against the pandemic, presented, according to Granma.cu. He highlighted that working groups will soon be created to analyze all the new data that is emerging on a daily basis.
Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez has shown full support for the company’s research, even requesting accelerated work, and, as a result, Cuba has been among the first countries to add four possibilities.
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The first of these is called Soberana 01, although later Cuba opted for a very similar alternative, Soberana 02, as explained by Dr. Vicente Vérez Bencomo, general director of the Finlay Vaccine Institute: “The idea was to diversify the alternatives to be able to overcome this challenge efficiently and clearly.” Both aim to introduce a high level of antibodies into the body.
They both use the same antigen, produced by the CHO cell and through biotechnology, with the intention of producing these antibodies. “We aspire to achieve, with a dose of one of the Soberana 01 formulations, to raise the defenses of these asymptomatic people to prevent them from having a relapse,” commented the doctor.
At present, scientists have asserted that the safety of the Soberana 01 dose is very high, that there is no significant adverse effect, and that more results are needed because five formulations have been tested on more than one hundred people. As for Soberana 02, a vaccine in which the virus antigen and a tetanus toxoid are combined, it has been concluded so far that one of its formulations causes a powerful immune response.
Other candidates against the coronavirus
Dr. Vérez Bencomo confirmed the commitment that in the first semester of 2021 a significant percentage of the Cuban population could be vaccinated. However, two new proposals have recently been added to combat coronavirus, adding more elements to fulfill that promise.
The Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) delivered a few days ago the documentation to request the registration, before the Center for State Control of Medicines, Medical Equipment and Devices, of these two new options so that they can enter the clinical development phase.
One of them is called Mambisa (CIGB 669), which is administered intranasally. “According to the studies carried out in primates, we discovered that this option has the ability to generate these antibodies and meets the rest of the proposed objectives,” explained Eulogio Pimentel Vázquez, director of the CIGB.
On the other hand, there is Abdala, administered intramuscularly, which needs to go through a clinical trial to evaluate its effectiveness. It is the fourth alternative designed by Cuba, and with all of these, the objective is to find the most effective out of the four after carrying out all the research simultaneously.
Translated by Ivette Romero. For original article (in Spanish), see https://as.com/diarioas/2020/11/16/actualidad/1605515465_204122.html
Also see “Cuba leads race for Latin American coronavirus vaccine” https://www.reuters.com/article/instant-article/idINKBN27S1OX and “European NGOs weigh funding Cuba’s Covid-19 vaccine,” https://www.laprensalatina.com/european-ngos-weigh-funding-cubas-covid-19-vaccine