August 21, 2021
Cuba’s drug regulator granted emergency approval for its homegrown Soberana 2 vaccine on Friday, allowing the drug’s full inclusion in the country’s inoculation program as it races to curb a Delta variant-fueled coronavirus outbreak.
The Soberana vaccine, which Cuba says has an efficacy rate of 91.2 has already been used to vaccinate some health workers and ordinary citizens in areas with high rates of transmission as part of early intervention studies.
The Soberana 2 vaccine was approved last month for emergency use in Iran, which struck a deal with Cuba to produce the drug on an industrial scale in the Islamic republic, where Covid vaccination is behind schedule with just around five percent fully vaccinated.
Approval by the Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices means the drug, comprised of two initial shots and a booster, can be included in the national vaccine program and could also help licensing abroad.
Cuba’s healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the recent COVID-19 outbreak, struggling with a lack of oxygen, medicines, doctors and equipment. Just a quarter of the population of around 11 million has been fully vaccinated. Iran’s decision came as the Cuban vaccine has not been approved internationally.
The country currently has one of the highest rates of officially confirmed cases and deaths per capita in the world, even though it managed to keep both low for much of last year.
The real numbers are likely even higher, according to reports from various provinces as the latest outbreak has outpaced its testing capacity.