Cuba aims to fully inoculate 90% of residents against COVID-19 by December

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  • Government using three Cuban-made vaccines
  • Aims to be first nation to vaccinate 90% with private vaccines

HAVANA, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Cuba is dashing up its COVID-19 vaccination program as a result of it aims to fully inoculate 90% of its inhabitants against the coronavirus by December, an formidable goal that has however to be reached by even wealthier nations.

The properly being ministry reported on Thursday that better than 80% of Cuba’s 11.3 million people had acquired not lower than a major shot of a three-dose immunization routine with Cuban-made vaccines Abdala, Soberana-2 or Soberana-plus.

Close to 50% have been fully vaccinated, it said – properly ahead of the worldwide widespread of 34%, in accordance to the Our World In Data site.

The authorities has said Cuba is on observe to become the first nation to inoculate quite a bit of its inhabitants with its private vaccines. It is administering them to these as youthful as two years outdated after scientific trials testing them on youngsters. The United States by comparability has however to authorize COVID-19 vaccines for anyone youthful than 12.

Currently Cuba is lagging China, which has fully inoculated an estimated 79% of its inhabitants with its private vaccines. But Cuban authorities are vaccinating at a faster clip per capita.

“We will be the first in the world to reach everyone with our own vaccines,” Ileana Morales, director of science and innovation at the health ministry, said on state television.

State developer BioCubaFarma said its vaccines reduce serious illness and death by 90%, even if breakthrough infections are possible.

It has not yet published data supporting that claim for the scientific community to review.

The World Health Organization recently launched the process to evaluate all three Cuban vaccines.

“It is usually a novel case on this planet,” said Jose Moya Medina, the Pan American Health Organization’s representative in Cuba. “I hope and assume Cuba will be an occasion for all worldwide areas on this planet as solely full vaccination can stop the pandemic and doable emergence of further dangerous variants.”

Cuba missed its early vaccination targets – partly due to U.S. sanctions hampering production, the government said – and suffered one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks in July and August, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.

But the government said this month that BioCubaFarma had produced enough shots to fully vaccinate the entire population.

GETTING READY FOR TOURISM

The cash-strapped country, which boasts pristine beaches and towns with colonial-era architecture, is banking on success to fully open its borders by mid-November for the tourism high-season.

Its vaccination campaign could give it an advantage over other countries in the region – one of the world’s most reliant on tourism – which is struggling with surging cases in part due to vaccine scepticism and low uptake.

Cuba is already lifting domestic restrictions in heavily vaccinated provinces, including Havana, as it tries to revitalize an economy severely battered by the pandemic, U.S. sanctions and domestic inefficiencies.

Shortages of food, medicine and just about every consumer good have led to severe hardship for many, on top of pandemic lockdowns, layoffs and inflation.

Cases and deaths per 100,000 residents in Havana, where around 80% of adults are vaccinated, are less than 20% of what they were two months ago, according to official data, and far below the rest of the country.

In 2020, Cuba’s pandemic response outperformed most countries. This year, however, the Delta variant swept through the populace and, in some provinces, overwhelmed its much acclaimed health services. At one point, Cuba had the highest per capita infection rate in the world, as daily cases peaked at nearly 10,000 in July and 98 deaths.

The health ministry reported a pandemic total of 11,863 cases and 146 deaths as of Dec. 31, 2020. Those tallies skyrocketed this year and stood at 877,428 cases and 7,436 deaths as of Wednesday.

Reporting by Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta in Havana; Additonal Reporting by Brenda Goh in Beijing and Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by Grant McCool and Bill Berkrot

A man is vaccinated at a vaccination center amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Havana, Cuba, June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Photo

A nurse shows a dose of Abdala vaccine against the coronavirus at a vaccination center in Havana, Cuba, June 23, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

A man is vaccinated at a vaccination center amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Havana, Cuba, June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Photo

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