Cuba libre to be COVID-libre: Five vaccines and counting
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Some 200 COVID vaccines are being developed worldwide; by March 25, 2021, 23 candidates had advanced to phase III clinical trials. Two of those were Cuban (Soberana 2 and Abdala). No other Latin American country has developed its own vaccine at this stage. Cuba has three more vaccine candidates in earlier stage trials (Soberana 1, Soberana Plus and an intranasal, needle-free vaccine called Mambisa). How do we explain this accomplishment? Cuba’s biotech sector is unique; entirely state-funded and owned, free from private interests, profits are not sought domestically, and innovation is channeled to meet public health needs. Dozens of research and development institutions collaborate, sharing resources and knowledge, instead of competing, which facilitates a fast track from research and innovation to trials and application. Cuba has the capacity to produce 60-70 percent of the medicines it consumes domestically, an imperative due to the US blockade and the cost of medicines in the international market. There is also fluidity between universities, research centers, and the public health system. These elements have proven vital in the development of Cuba’s COVID-19 vaccines.
There are five types of COVID-19 vaccines being developed globally:
—Viral vector vaccines, which inject an unrelated harmless virus modified to deliver SARS-CoV-2 genetic material (Oxford AstraZeneca, Gamaleya and SputnikV)
—Genetic vaccines containing a segment of SARS-CoV-2 virus genetic material (Pfizer, Moderna)
—Inactivated vaccines containing disactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus (Sinovac,/Butantan, SinoPharm, Bharat Biotec)
—Attenuated vaccines containing weakened SARS-CoV-2 virus (Codagenix)
—Protein vaccines containing proteins from the virus which trigger an immune response (Novavax, Sanofi/GSK)
The five Cuban vaccines under clinical trials are all protein vaccines; they carry the portion of the virus spike protein which binds to human cells; it generates neutralizing antibodies to block the binding process. Dr Marlene Ramirez Gonzalez explains that they are, ‘subunit vaccines, one of the most economical approaches and the type for which Cuba has the greatest know-how and infrastructure. From protein S — the antigen or part of the SARS-CoV2 virus that all COVID vaccines target because it induces the strongest immune response in humans — Cuban candidates are based only on the part that is involved in contact with the cell’s receptor: the RBD (receptor-binding domain) which is also the one that induces the greatest amount of neutralizing antibodies. This strategy is not exclusive to Cuban vaccines. But Soberana 2 does distinguish itself from the rest of the world’s candidates as the only “conjugate vaccine.” Currently in phase III clinical trials, it combines RBD with tetanus toxoid, which enhances the immune response…Cuba had already developed another vaccine with this principle. It is Quimi-Hib, “the first of its kind to be approved in Latin America and the second in the world,” against Haemophilus influenzae type b, coccobacilli responsible for diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia and epiglottitis.’
Idania Caballero, a pharmaceutical scientist at BioCubaFarma points out that the vaccines build on decades of medical science and work on infectious diseases. “The mortality rate in Cuba due to infectious diseases, even in times of COVID, is less than one percent. Cuba today vaccinates against 13 diseases with 11 vaccines, eight of which are produced in Cuba. Six diseases have been eliminated as a result of vaccination schedules. The vaccines produced with these technologies have been administered even to children in the first months of life.”
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
April 22, 2021 at 4:32 PM #418762Babel 17Participant
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