Cuba looks for WHO endorsement of its Covid-19 vaccines

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HAVANA: Cuba said Wednesday it might seek World Health Organization approval for 2 home-grown coronavirus vaccines it hopes to commercialize widely.

A vetting process will start Thursday with WHO experts examining the nation’s Abdala and Soberana 02 jabs, said Rolando Perez of state pharma group BioCubaFarma.

Perez said the experts would examine the vaccines’ “safety, immunogenicity (the ability of a vaccine to impress an immune response) and efficacy.”

The WHO’s representative in Cuba, Jose Moya, told AFP there would be “a first virtual meeting” Thursday between experts in Havana, Geneva and Washington.

Cuba has been using domestically-produced vaccines in its Covid-19 inoculation campaign, including for youngsters .

The vaccines, the primary developed in Latin America , have yet to undergo international, scientific referee .

They are supported recombinant protein technology — an equivalent employed by the United States’ Novavax and France’s Sanofi jabs.

Unlike many other shots in use, recombinant vaccines don’t require extreme refrigeration.

Perez said Cuba’s ability to sell its vaccines to other countries doesn’t depend upon WHO approval, as this is often a choice for national health authorities.

But it might “facilitate (the vaccines’) entry into the market in other nations, once the island’s needs are covered.”

Several countries including Argentina and Mexico have shown interest in acquiring the Cuban jabs, Venezuela has already signed a sale contract, and Iran is producing Soberana 02 on home soil.

Under American sanctions since 1962, communist Cuba features a long tradition of creating its own vaccines, dating back to the 1980s.

Nearly 80 percent of its inoculations are produced locally.

Cuban scientists say the Abdala and Soberana 02 jabs are shown to be quite 90 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 cases.

The island of 11.2 million people has fully vaccinated about 38.5 percent of its population, also using China’s Sinopharm inoculation.

The country has registered 768,497 Covid cases and 6,523 deaths.

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