Cuba will soon become the first country in Latin America to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines. With two domestically produced in stage-three clinical trials, the island of 11 million people is in the process of developing Soberana 02 and Abdala, which reached final-stage trials last month.
The names of the vaccines reveal much about how Cuba sees the national effort. Soberana translates as “sovereign”, while the Abdala shot was named after a patriotic poem by the Cuban revolutionary hero Jose Marti.
Cuba has been under a strict US trade embargo for decades and if successful, these vaccines can be mass produced and sold for invaluable revenue abroad.
The Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which is developing Abdala, is hoping to have “effective results” from the trial by early June, while results from the trial of Soberana 02, which is being developed by the Finlay Institute, are expected in May.
“There are already positive preliminary results,” Ricardo Perez, head of International Relations at the Finlay Vaccine Institute, said.
“These might allow us to present a dossier to the Cuban authorities that would enable us to request approval for emergency use of the product, not anymore as a candidate but as a product, probably by the end of next month.”