By Alan Macleod – Nov 16, 2020
Cuba is already a medical powerhouse, and if it can successfully navigate the minefield of US sanctions, it could supply much of Latin America with a COVID vaccine.
Cuba has announced positive and promising results for a number of separate COVID-19 vaccines it is currently developing, but U.S. sanctions against the small island nation are hampering the development and rollout of the potentially life-saving treatments.
Two candidates, named Sovereign 1 and Sovereign 2, have generated antibodies blocking infection in animals and are showing similarly encouraging signs on tests on human subjects. Meanwhile, a separate vaccine, based on a protein from the hepatitis B virus, is unique in that it is delivered through the nasal tract and does not require a needle to administer.
Should any of these efforts ultimately succeed, the Caribbean nation — already a medical powerhouse that has developed a lung cancer vaccine and methods to stop mother-to-baby HIV and syphilis transmission— will likely become an important supplier to other Latin American and developing countries who have been effectively shut out from purchasing COVID vaccines from Western companies, as rich nations have already begun hoarding coronavirus medicines.
Dr. Helen Yaffe of Glasgow University, author of “We Are Cuba!: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World,” was impressed and heartened by the news, telling MintPress:
“Cuba now has four COVID-specific vaccine candidates under clinical trial. The fact that a small Caribbean island can achieve such a remarkable feat is testimony to its state-owned biotech sector, which is directed towards public health demands and integrated into its healthcare and education systems. After years of being told that only the market can lead to efficiency and innovation, Cuba’s socialist planned economy demonstrates what is possible when there is political will, good coordination, organization and the priority of social welfare.”
However, Cuban immunization developments are being seriously hamstrung by the actions of the U.S. government, primarily due to the decades-long blockade on the island, something which the Cuban government estimates has cost it over 750 billion U.S. dollars.