Cuba said on Thursday 8, its two-shot Soberana 02 vaccine, delivered with the booster Soberana Plus, had proven 91.2% effective in late stage clinical trials against the coronavirus, following similar news about its Abdala vaccine.
The announcement came from the biopharmaceutical corporation BioCubaFarma, which oversees the Finlay Institute, the maker of Soberana 02, and the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the producer of Abdala. Last month, Abdala was found to have a 92.28% efficacy.
Cuba’s biotech sector has a long history of vaccine development, producing 80% of vaccines used in the country and exporting some of them.
Cuba is the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to successfully develop a coronavirus vaccine.
Cuba has a total of five candidate vaccines in the pipeline, with Abdala and Soberana 02 expected to be quickly authorized for emergency use by Center for the State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices (CECMED) and sent up for approval to the World Health Organization.
The local authorizations would open the way for other countries to purchase the vaccines or produce them. Mexico, Argentina and Vietnam have expressed interest in production and Iran says it is producing Soberana 2 after trials in that country.
Both vaccines are “low” tech, meaning they use a traditional approach deploying a part of the virus’s spike protein which helps the virus enter and infect cells, to build up the immune system.
These vaccines are generally less expensive to develop and easier to store and transport as they do not require extremely low temperatures.
The three shot Abdala, (named after a poem by Cuban hero Jose Marti), is given in two-week intervals, while Soberana 02, translated as sovereign in English, is administered in four-week intervals.
Cuba is facing its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic following the arrival of more contagious variants, setting new records for daily coronavirus cases at over 3,500 this week.
Authorities have already started administering the vaccine candidates massively as part of intervention studies they hope will slow the spread of the virus.
About 1.5 million of the country’s 11.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated to date.
(With information from agencies)
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