Cuban scientists and medical workers advance fight against COVID – Liberation News


Photo: COVID Vaccine Coordinator Dr Miladys Limonta Fernández speaks with Gloria La Riva

After a severe increase in Cuba in illnesses and deaths from COVID-19 over the summer, there are encouraging developments with a steady recovery and a downward trend in illnesses and deaths. Similar to the global ‘third wave’ of COVID, the delta variant quickly became the dominant mutation in Cuba and swept across the island.

Now people breathe a sigh of relief this October. Workplaces, restaurants, beaches and public spaces are opening up and tourism will soon be welcome on November 15. Of course, health experts still call for continued caution to avoid another outbreak.

Mass vaccination of the population means that by November 15, 92% of the total population will be fully vaccinated thanks to the development and production by Cuba of its own vaccines: Abdala, Mambisa and Soberana Plus. In fact, Cuba’s vaccination rate is the fastest in the world and the only country with children as young as two years old covered.

On November 15, all children will return to school in person, fully immunized. Compare that to Texas and Florida, where both governors have banned mask warrants in public schools.

Cuba’s vaccination and its early medical intervention in positive cases are the two factors responsible for Cuba’s cure rate of 97.5% of those who fell ill, compared to the global rate of 90.46% and 85.3 % in Latin America and the Caribbean. These statistics were transmitted at a national meeting of scientists, medical experts and statisticians with heads of government which was chaired by President Miguel Díaz-Canel on October 12.

Life begins to return to normal in a beer garden in Old Havana following a very successful vaccination campaign. October 10

For people allergic to the thiomersal ingredient in vaccines, a vaccine without thiomersal was released on September 25.

From a record number of new COVID cases that reached over 9,000+ per day in August, new cases in October show a significant drop. October 14 saw 2,138 new positive cases, with a daily average of 2,488 over the past five days.

From hospitals to famous biotechnology centers to the production of medical equipment, Cuban heroes in these fields are key players in the country’s resistance to the blockade and the pandemic. They are achieving great feats amid the toughest economic measures the US government has ever imposed on Cuba. Trump has signed 243 measures to strangle the Cuban economy. Biden not only upheld Trump’s anti-Cuban acts, but added new sanctions. The CIA and its front groups are fueling new subversive attacks.

Improved health indices and scientific advances are part of Cuba’s immunity to US-backed counterrevolutionary efforts.

Witnessing frontline workers in Cuba

This week I visited the San Miguel del Padrón Pediatric University Hospital, which was designated at the start of the pandemic to treat children with COVID who have high-risk factors, such as heart problems. Doctors and nurses proudly say that no children have died there from COVID during the entire pandemic.

Dr Yaima Rodríguez Espinoza, director of the hospital, said: “At the height of the pandemic from May to August, the 200 hospital beds were filled with vulnerable children. Today, we only have 42 patients, which testifies to the recovery of the epidemiological situation in the country.

San Miguel del Padrón Pediatric Hospital: Head nurse, intensive care unit. Liliana Vaillant, nurse Marcia Marcial, nurse Yusliana Bustamante Hernandez, anesthetist Angel Labadid, Dr Elizabeth González, head of the intensive care unit.

The latest development in vaccines from Cuba

The biotechnology industry in Cuba is at the heart of the fight against COVID. The government and scientists knew from the start that Cuba should depend on its own solutions to the pandemic and not fall victim to the global pharmaceutical giants and the blockade.

Cuban scientists have produced five vaccine lines, with further advances underway.

Miladys Limonta Fernández from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) spoke to me to explain the latest development of CIGB last week. As she explained, for over 30 years Cuba has used a proven process for the development of other vaccines. Test studies have shown that CIGB’s Abdala vaccine is safe for children two years of age and older. Compare that to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are based on a new mRNA-based platform. This is the first time that a product based on the mRNA platform has been used in humans.

From left to right: Dr Miladys Limonta Fernández, COVID Vaccine Coordinator; Gilda Lemus, Master of Sciences, head of the Analytical Clinical Laboratory, both of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; Gloria La Riva, in the center. October 12, 2021.

And with major clinical studies just completed, a special Mambisa lineage nasal vaccine has now moved to phase 2. Limonta said: “This is the most beneficial because the virus enters through the nasal passage. Of all the vaccines in the world, there are only five that have a nasal application. Cuba is one of them. She says that recently some Astra-Zeneca researchers were aware of the successful clinical studies from Cuba and “they are interested in discussing with us to share more about the findings of Cuba and AstraZeneca”.

The science centers have all embarked on the urgent tasks needed in the fight against COVID. Recently, engineers and technicians at the Center for Neuroscience (CNeuro) began to produce ventilators to overcome the blockade, spare parts and items of PPE. Yanet Gárriga, a resourceful young engineer and engineer Lian González designed the mold for the small plastic “Y” connectors, to double the capacity of the fans.

Technician Alexis Hernández and engineer Yanet Gárriga, Cuban Neuroscience Center, September 2021.

She showed me several of the articles that the Neuroscience Center produced during this time of pandemic. This is not the typical work of the center, but as Dr Limonta says of CNeuro, “we all work together among our centers”. In Cuba, it is the health of the people, and not the profits, that is the engine.

In Havana and other provinces where cases are less numerous, the government has allowed restaurants, cafes and beaches to open. And there is a great expectation for the opening of the country to international tourism on November 15th.

It is no coincidence that the coordinated protests that erupted in Cuba on July 11 were programmed by US imperialism to take advantage of Cubans’ particularly difficult circumstances as the COVID crisis reached its peak in July. Now the same counterrevolutionary forces, few in number but amplified in the US media, have called for protests on November 15, just as tourism is due to open and school is in full swing. But as the Cuban people have shown time and time again, they will also overcome and defeat the next aggressions.

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