Cuba could begin mass vaccination of its population against COVID-19 with two of its vaccine candidates starting next June and thus reach six million immunized persons in August, announced this Tuesday the national director of Science and Technological Innovation of the island’s Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), Ileana Morales.
Once “an emergency use or registration permit” is issued by the regulatory agency, the introduction of the mass vaccination would begin, which could be for the month of June, the executive said during the Mesa Redonda television program, Cubadebate reported.
The doctor stressed that the phase III clinical trials with the candidates Soberana 02 and Abdala are proceeding as planned.
She also specified that the intervention study with the first drug in health workers in Havana, with 150,000 volunteers, includes more than 140 vaccination centers, with more than 300 certified nurses. “It is being done in two groups, each one of 75,000 subjects,” she explained.
“Soon we would have, if approved, an intervention study with the same characteristics in health workers from Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba and Granma, with the candidate Abdala and in more than 120,000 subjects,” said Morales, cited by the source.
Without results from the third phase of clinical trials of Cuban-made anti-Covid-19 products, the authorities are already talking about a “product development” stage that would cover 1.7 million people over 19 years of age, until May, in the capital of the island.
“Already moving forward, by June we would be delivering the files and evaluations to CECMED. From there, there could be two paths: one, the approval of emergency use due to the epidemiological situation itself, or the registration of any of those approved for these cases,” said the expert.
Morales explained that the path to vaccination on a population scale could be designed based on risk groups: “age groups and health workers, starting with those over 60, stratifying in age and advancing in all provinces of the country,” she exemplified.
She assured that the production of the drugs is guaranteed, so that, between the end of July and the first days of August, they plan to complete the vaccination of those population segments, which number approximately four million people, to begin in August with an average of six million.
According to Morales, “it is a comprehensive strategy that advances by strata: first, a clinical trial; then, intervention studies in populations that epidemiologically are of very high interest and later on a more population-scale; a possible registration or approval of emergency use and then a population-scale vaccination starting with risk groups throughout the country. Adding all these groups until a percentage is reached in the country that guarantees protection on a population scale.”
During the television program, the vice president of BioCubaFarma, Eulogio Pimentel, affirmed that in Cuba “things are not improvised.”
“We’re talking about a lot of science from a MINSAP strategy to immunize the entire Cuban population. Until the regulatory entity certifies its emergency use or registration, there is always talk of vaccine candidates,” he said.