Cuba plans to have enough doses of home-grown COVID-19 vaccine to vaccinate its entire population by August, said Doctor Eduardo Martinez, president of BioCubaFarma, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical company headquartered in Havana.
“With the entire population vaccinated, Cuba will be safer than ever and ready to receive Canadians when travel restrictions are lifted,” said Lessner Gomez, Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Caribbean country is one of a handful in the region that have not started vaccinating against COVID, as it is counting on its own vaccine candidates. Soberana 2, one of four vaccines in development by Cuban scientists, is currently in the final phase of clinical trials.
It is a protein-based vaccine that contains part of the coronavirus. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, it does not need to be stored in deep freeze. The Cuba Tourist Board says this may be a draw for poorer countries that often lack the equipment to keep vaccine doses frozen.
“This extraordinary scientific achievement makes us very optimistic and for sure makes Cuba rebound ready when Canadians start to travel again,” Gomez said.
According to Reuters, Cuba has long experience with developing and exporting vaccines.
Cuba’s drug regulatory authority on Thursday also approved Abdala, a second COVID-19 vaccine candidate, for late-stage clinical trials.
Cuba is currently going through its worst coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic after opening its borders late last year, Reuters reports. The island of 11 million inhabitants is registering 600 to 1,000 new cases each day, well above the handful of new infections per day for most of last year.
Since the pandemic started, the country has reported 65,000 cases and 387 deaths, one of the lowest rates in the world per capita.