Cuba announced high efficacy for 2 of its 5 homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, cheering its scientists for achieving the feat despite the ongoing US embargo, reports The Miami Herald (free registration required).
Efficacy rates from phase 3 trials:
- The 3-dose Abdala vaccine candidate: 92.28%
- The Soberana 02: 62% (after 2 of 3 recommended shots)
Unanswered questions: The news has been hailed as a potential big win for vaccine equity efforts. But Cuba has yet to share trial data with the WHO, spurring questions. “If the vaccines are that good, why not share the data with the world?” asks Cuba scholar Andy Gomez, formerly with the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.
Cuba already began vaccinating its citizens, though, after a spike in cases last month. The country had rejected vaccines developed elsewhere—deploying strict restrictions to control transmission while working on its own candidates. The strategy apparently worked—with <12,500 cases registered last year for the population of 11 million—until the country reopened for tourism late last year.
Meanwhile, Lianys Torres, Cuba’s ambassador in Washington, denounced the US blockage—saying it hampered exchange of information on COVID-19 vaccines, Prensa Latina reports.
Fun facts: The name Abdala comes from a famous poem penned by Cuban national independence hero Jose Marti, according to the Miami Herald.
Soberana, fittingly, is Spanish for sovereign.