Lung carcinoma is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. In lung cancer, the healthy cell that becomes the tumor cell is in the epithelium lining the entire respiratory tree from the trachea to the thinnest terminal bronchiole. Symptoms may include cough, chest discomfort or pain, weight loss and less frequently hemoptysis (coughing up blood). Depending on the stage of the disease, treatment consists of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of some of these modalities.
Primary lung cancer is a cancer that originates from lung cells. It may start in the respiratory tracks that branch off from the trachea (windpipe) to ventilate the lungs (bronchi) or in the small air sacs of the lung (alveoli). Metastatic lung cancer is cancer that has spread from other parts of the body, most often from the breast, colon, prostate, kidneys, thyroid glands, stomach, cervix, rectum, testicles, bones or skin. Most patients do not see a doctor until they have the first symptoms and these vary depending on the stage of the disease. Diagnosis usually occurs because the tumor begins to interfere with nearby organs.
The most important cause of lung cancer in about 85% of cases is smoking. The risk of lung cancer increases with combined exposure to toxins and smoking. Other risk factors include air pollution, marijuana use, exposure to carcinogens (asbestos, arsenic, nickel, chromates, among others). The risk of lung cancer associated with electronic nicotine delivery systems such as electronic cigarettes has not yet been determined, although it is believed that tobacco combustion products are the main carcinogens. Other causes also include genetic factors.
Respiratory epithelial cells require prolonged exposure to cancer-promoting agents and the accumulation of multiple genetic mutations before becoming neoplastic.
About 25% of lung cancer patients are asymptomatic and are detected mainly incidentally by chest x-ray. When symptoms begin to appear they are a consequence of the progression of the disease whether local, regional dissemination or metastasis. The manifestations of lung cancer generally depend on the stage of the disease. The initial stages are usually asymptomatic or with symptoms that can be confused with other diseases.
The most frequent symptoms are:
Loss of appetite;
Coughing up blood;
Shortness of breath;
Pain in bone structures;
Other symptoms may arise from metastasis or invasion of tumor cells into the lymph nodes, bones, brain, liver and adrenal glands.
Lung cancer is classified according to what type of cells make up the tumor:
Non-small cell lung cancer;
Small cell or microcytic lung cancer. This is a very aggressive cancer that grows and spreads very quickly.
When the tumor is local it may cause cough and less frequently dyspnea due to respiratory track obstruction, post-obstructive atelectasis or pneumonia and parenchymal loss due to lymphangitic spread. In the case of pneumonia, it may present with fever. Some patients report vague or localized chest pain. Hemoptysis is less common, and blood loss is minimal, unless the tumor erodes into a major artery and causes massive hemorrhage, but as mentioned above hemoptysis only occurs in about 10% of patients.
When tumor spread is regional it can cause pleuritic chest pain or dyspnea due to the development of pleural effusion; hoarseness, resulting from tumor invasion of the laryngeal nerve; and dyspnea and hypoxia due to diaphragmatic paralysis, due to involvement of the phrenic nerve.
Over time metastases cause other symptoms that vary by location, metastases can spread to:
Liver: causes pain, nausea, early satiety and even liver failure;
Bones: can cause severe pain and pathological fractures;
Adrenal glands: rarely with adrenal insufficiency.
Diagnosis is made through:
Positron emission tomography;
Cytopathologic examination of pleural fluid or sputum;
Bronchoscopy-guided biopsy and core needle biopsy;
To determine the treatment for lung cancer, the size and location of the tumor must be taken into account. Depending on this, there are different types of treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In the case of lung cancer surgery, it involves the total or partial removal of the tumor from the lymph nodes near the thorax, depending on the type of intervention. There are three types of surgery: segmentectomy, lobectomy and pneumonectomy. The recovery period is several weeks or months.
Radiotherapy consists of eliminating cancer cells by means of high-energy ionizing radiation, which can stop their growth and division. This type of therapy can produce, to a greater or lesser extent, a series of side effects such as tiredness, difficulty in swallowing, coughing and slight respiratory difficulty.
Chemotherapy uses intravenous or oral drugs to destroy tumor cells. It is administered in cycles, alternating periods of treatment and rest. Depending on when it is administered, there are different types of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs, like radiation therapy, can also damage healthy cells in the body.
Cuba has carried out numerous studies on the subject and has a treatment for lung cancer with monoclonal antibodies, CIMAVAX EFG and VAXIRA. Both vaccines offer the possibility of converting advanced cancer into a controllable chronic disease for those patients who are eligible for treatment. The vaccine has shown encouraging results in terms of survival and improvement in the patient’s quality of life, in addition to having no adverse side effects.
A hallucination is a false perception in the absence of a related sensory stimulus. Auditory hallucinations are a subjective, transient and extraordinarily varied mental phenomenon. In a simpler definition, it is a perception without object, where the patient perceives sounds without any real auditory stimulus.
Auditory hallucinations do not constitute a disease in themselves, as they are symptoms of different clinical pictures that can occur in different pathologies and with different degrees of intensity.
Auditory hallucinations can occur in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Their environment of appearance can be determined by different causes.
It is very difficult to associate this symptom to a specific psychopathology, since hallucinations are a phenomenon that presents great dispersion in terms of origin, development and variety; and although it is the most common type of hallucination in primary psychiatric diseases, the hallucinatory component is not limited to the field of psychosis (although it is the predominant pattern), but is present in different pathologies such as bipolar disorder, neurological and psychiatric diseases (related to psychotic disorders), consumption of drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine, diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson and others such as deafness, epilepsy or temporal lobe tumors. Therefore, their value as a specific diagnostic indicator is very limited a priori, since they can appear associated with very diverse diseases. It is important to note that auditory hallucinations secondary to non-psychiatric processes may be accompanied by delusional ideas, unlike primary ones, which may have false memories of which the patient is not aware, therefore, patient fervently believes in the veracity of the memory.
Auditory hallucinations are more frequent in psychotic persons and can come in two forms: verbal, where the patient hears single words, phrases and speeches with an imperative or guilty nuance and non-verbal where the patient hears music, chimes, bells and unstructured noises. They occur with different levels of intensity, from very definite to very diffuse.
Among the types of auditory hallucinations, the following stand out:
The patient hears a voice speaking in his/her minds.
The patient hears a voice or several voices arguing with each other.
The patient hears voices narrating his/her own actions.
The patient hears musical tones.
The patient hears loud noises.
Hallucinations associated with schizophrenic and depressive psychoses are more elaborate in content and the “voices” heard are often threatening in content. The hallucination forms are different among psychiatric patients, especially those with schizophrenia, and in patients with neurological diseases or substance abuse.
Stress must be taken into account when assessing the causes of auditory hallucinations, as it can be assumed to be the main triggering factor of hallucinatory phenomena. Studies carried out with healthy patients exposed to threatening situations or family losses indicate that it is very likely that they may experience hallucinations when there are stressful circumstances around them. Also, and in a very direct way, the abandonment of psychotropic drugs or the abuse of toxic substances can have a direct influence as triggers of hallucinatory phenomena.
Sometimes auditory hallucinations occur in the absence of any detectable disease. Those with more dopamine (neurotransmitter present in various areas of the brain) are more susceptible to this impact and are more likely to perceive auditory stimuli. Often, patients relate the subjective experience of someone speaking to them and are emotionally negative. Conditions that cause damage to or interference with peripheral sensory pathways can produce auditory hallucinations; for example, acquired deafness is a common cause. Metabolic disorders related to the endocrine system, including thyroid function disorders and Hashimoto’s disease, can produce auditory hallucinations as well.
Other associated medical conditions include chromosomal disorders such as Prader/Willi syndrome, autoimmune disorders, sleep disorders, tumors, epilepsy, and cardiovascular events where the activity involves the temporal, occipital or tempoparietal pathways.
In relation to the origin and development of auditory hallucinations, research suggests or separates what would be antecedent or triggering factors. There are different aspects to take into account, for example, certain genetic predisposition that make the patient more vulnerable to suffer hallucinations, but that must be combined with certain circumstances that would function as triggering elements. Among the psychological factors that could be present in the origin of auditory hallucinations are personality aspects, stressful situations, reinforcement processes and even superstitious beliefs.
As mentioned above, among the various vulnerability models for experiencing acoustic hallucinations, the person must be subjected to highly stressful situations and not possess sufficient resources to cope, feeling helpless or overwhelmed by the experience. Among the stressors are: divorce, job loss, death of family members, unfulfilled goals, childhood traumas and denial of emotions in certain scenarios, as well as isolation where the patient begins to hear voices to compensate for his lack of social interaction.
In conclusion, hearing voices is not exclusively a mental disorder, as they can be experienced in organic diseases as well as in situations related to drug and alcohol consumption and even brain injuries resulting from accidents of any kind. Hallucinations can have a small intensity and become almost inaudible, or they can have a great intensity to the point that the patient cannot sleep or hear other people.
CAIRO – 18 April 2022: Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Acting Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar praised the depth and strength of Egyptian-Cuban relations.
He emphasized the need to increase cooperation between Egypt and Cuba in the fields of health and scientific research in order to improve healthcare services for citizens of both countries.
Abdel Ghaffar met with the Cuban ambassador to Egypt, Tania Aguiar Fernandez. The meeting was held in order to discuss new ways of cooperation between both countries and all fields relating to health care. During the meeting Abdel Ghaffar asserted that Cuba deserves respect for their high-quality expertise in medicine and public health. He also said that Cubans have a distinguished system of healthcare around the world, which is worth benefiting from when necessary.
The meeting tackled means to promote cooperation in the fields of scientific research and benefit from the cadres and scientific and research expertise via research institutions and centers in both countries, the spokesman said.
Both sides asserted the importance of exchanging scientific and professional expertise between the two countries, he added.
The meeting took up exchanging student missions from the faculties of medicine as well as exchanging doctors to ensure the best outcome, he said.
Meanwhile, Fernandez thanked Abdel Ghaffar for his keenness on cooperating with Cuba to improve the fields of public health and scientific research, asserting her country’s keenness on working together with Egypt in all different domains.
Cuba’s local but efficacious approach to COVID-19 vaccine development is laudable. Cuba has adopted intense production and deployments of country-made vaccines while other Latin American countries look up to foreign aids in containing the pandemic. Vaccine production in Cuba has helped the island nation cater for mass vaccination of Cubans without breaking the national budget while also assisting other countries with the vaccines.
Cuba is the first Latin American country to successfully produce COVID-19 vaccines with 92 percent efficacy recorded in the Abdala vaccine.1 The success of Abdala’s production has gingered further vaccine production including Soberana 1, Soberana 2 with a 91 percent efficacy rate, Soberana Plus, and Mambisa.1 These vaccines have placed Cuba alongside the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and India in successful vaccine production. The vaccines are completely manufactured in Cuba making it possible for a country-wide vaccination.
Cuba’s vaccines effectiveness is shown in the fewer death rates in the country. In 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, Cuba recorded 146 deaths in 11, 863 infections while the UK had 1084 deaths per million.1
Benefits and Effectiveness of Cuban Vaccines
The Abdala vaccine is Cuban-made. The vaccine is patterned in a similar approach to the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine and the hepatitis B vaccine. Abdala is different from other vaccines because it’s engineered in cells of yeast and not from coronavirus protein extracts.2 The vaccine is applied in three doses to train the immune system to identify and fight coronavirus whenever it contacts it. Abdala has been tested and found effective in destroying coronavirus when it contacts it. The vaccine has a 92 percent efficacy against coronavirus and protects against diseases and deaths.2
Abdala has been effective in containing COVID-19 in Cuba. Cuban health authorities have combined Abdala and Soberana 2 in driving mass vaccination in the country. The vaccine integration technique also resulted in the successful vaccination of 90 percent of the 11 million Cuban population.2 COVID infection rates in Cuba are declining while local vaccine production is increasing; this has made it possible to sell vaccine doses abroad.
More countries are indicating interest in Abdala. The vaccine is efficacious and has been taken for trials in Iran. While the vaccine is undergoing trial in Iran, it’s been adopted for vaccination in Vietnam, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.2 Argentina and Mexico have also shown interest in using the effective Abdala vaccine.
The Soberana vaccine involves a chemical binding of tetanus toxoid to the virus antigen for COVID-19.3 The vaccine has been tested effective by several medical institutes and centers after the approval for trial testing from the Cuban Center for Quality Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices in 2020. A non-peer review study has confirmed that Soberana is excellent for neutralizing COVID-19 and gives a complete safety profile.3 The clinical trials for the review showed that the vaccine gives all participants excellent safety profiles one month after the vaccination; increases antibody 20 fold one week after the vaccination and is four times effective for neutralizing the virus.3 Majority of the Cuban population has benefitted from the vaccine. Soberana gives 91.2 percent when boosted with Soberana Plus and is effectively safe to use in three-dose.3
Soberana is gaining traction in international communities. In Iran, the Pasteur Institute has confirmed Soberana and Soberana Plus effective for containing the Delta strain of COVID-19.3 After using the Soberan 2, boosting it with the Soberana plus returns an increase from 71.0 to 92.4 percent.3 According to Reuters on healthcare and pharmaceuticals, a peer-review of the Soberana vaccines will position Cuba among countries like Russia, Germany, and the United States that have successfully produced vaccines with more than 90 percent efficacy.4 This means Soberana is ranked alongside Sputnik V., Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax with over 90 percent efficacy after peer reviews.
Soberana and the other four Cuban vaccines are locally manufactured. They’re produced on low-tech forms but with a high natural-focused biotechnology process.4 The vaccines are less expensive and fit perfectly for countries that can’t afford the more expensive COVID-19 vaccines. Practical applications of Cuban vaccines to its population have confirmed safety, efficacy, and costs effectiveness which are prime determinants in vaccine selection and purchase.
The Mambisa vaccine is the fifth Cuba-made vaccine with high efficacy. The vaccine is produced by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Cuba.5 Mambisa is made from a combination of produced antigens and gives fewer side effects to users.5 The vaccine is highly beneficial because of its multiple application possibilities without constituting harm to users. Multiple application of Mambisa increases immunity against coronavirus making the vaccine highly demanded.5 Mambisa centered the protein nucleus in generating higher immunity against COVID-19.5 This vaccine is different from others because it’s capable of increasing immunity with a single dose unlike other vaccines that require double or three doses for immune responses. Multiple applications of Mambisa may not be advised because the vaccine is efficacious at a single dose.5
Cuba Medical Milestones
Cuba, an island nation with over 11 million populations has a long history of medical efficacy. While the US sanction on the Cuban economy has affected import-export relations in some ways, Cuba has remained significantly top of other Latin American countries in medical effectiveness. The mass production of the COVID-19 vaccines using local resources and ingenious biotechnologists has gained the country recognition among top nations like the UK, US, and Germany in medical innovation and manufacturing. One important effect of Cuban vaccine production is that the country can protect its million population while also helping other countries by selling the effective Cuba-made COVID-19 vaccines.
The COVID-19 pandemic has come with rising global inflation and economies are reacting negatively. What this portends is that countries might find it difficult to purchase expensive vaccines like Sputnik V., Pfizer, and Moderna or wait for foreign aids. While waiting, the pandemic may badly hit the most vulnerable and further threaten global health and prosperity. Cuban vaccines are safe and less expensive alternatives with testimonials from Cuban populations, Vietnam, Venezuela, and Iran among others.
Cuba’s medical effectiveness dates back to when Fidel Castro invested heavily in Cuban public health. The investment has yielded results in combating cancer and meningitis in Cuba.6 Cuban health research and vaccine production have reduced Cuba’s infant mortality rate to 4.2 percent of 1,000; a lower percentage than obtainable in the US.6
Medical investment in Cuba is people-oriented. Cuban authorities have thus mandated BioCubaFarma, the country’s leading biotechnology center to manufacture vaccines and equipment to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and assist struggling economies with treatments and equipment at this time.7
Cuba High Ranking in COVID-19 vaccination
Medical innovations and productivity is driving Cuba’s mass vaccination. Cuba has reached an all-time milestone of vaccinating 90 percent of its population putting it behind only the United Arab Emirates in vaccination.8 Cuba’s rapid and effective vaccination puts the country ahead of richer countries and stronger economies in Latin America and the Caribbean.8 The secret to this milestone is described as focus and value on local production of vaccines while many countries struggle for more expensive and foreign-made COVID-19 vaccines.8
Cuba has successfully vaccinated 90 percent of its population with children between 2-18 being fully vaccinated.8 Effective vaccination has returned normalcy in Cuba; schools have reopened and tourists are now welcome to the island nation. Although the COVID-19 variants are being reported in the UK and South Africa, Cuba’s vaccines are efficaciously lined up for use as they’ve been tested for effectiveness within and outside the country. It’s safe to say that Cuba-made vaccines are stronger and better alternatives even to COVID variants.
Cuba has achieved a milestone that many rich nations aspire to attain in medical innovation. Medical innovation has translated to excellent manufacturing of world-class COVID-19 vaccines in Cuba including Abdala, Soberana 1, Soberana 2, Soberana Plus, and Mambisa. These vaccines have helped Cuba to near-all population vaccination and have sustained the island’s economy in the face of the pandemic. The vaccines are high in efficacy with Abdala and Soberana reaching more than 90 percent efficacy rates. More countries are beginning to demand Cuba-made vaccines because of the high efficacy, safe profiles, naturalness, and cost-effectiveness making them competitive globally.
Purchasing Cuban vaccines will help countries contain the virus without breaking their treasury on containment. The vaccines are less expensive and available for distribution to any country in the world.
Drug and substance abuse has taken a higher toll in recent times. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has accounted that over 275 million between 15-64 years of age abuse drugs and substances at least once a day. The higher rates of drug and substance abuse have not been unconnected to ravaging consequences including 20 million substance-induced disability and 8.6 million deaths with 160,235 and 145, 565 deaths caused by drug and alcohol respectively. As more people engage in drug and substance abuse, the rate of addiction has also gone up; birthing the need for proactive drug rehabilitation activities. In drug rehabilitation excellence, Cuba has earned a good mark.
Diego Maradona the great told his lawyers and families to return him to Cuba to continue his rehab activities. The story of the sports legend’s drug addiction topped the news in the 1900s and 2000s. After the suspension from the Italian League in 1991 and the 1994 World Cup, Maradona resumed rehab in Cuba in 2000. The sports star said he was convinced of getting rehab in the Island nation by the belief of the revolutionary, Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara known for fighting for revolution in Cuba and leading as a communist leader. Another reason Maradona chose Cuba was because of privacy. He indicated in his interviews in Cuba that in the Island nation, he had more privacy and could work about without having reporters flock around him trying to monitor his rehab process. He considered the heavy presence of reporters in his Argentine rehab place as unnecessary and disturbing. The remarkable thing about the first-class rehab provided to Maradona is that Cuban rehab facilities are top medical industry standard and can take in global leaders, world-class celebs and individuals seeking quality rehab programs.
The rehab program in Cuba includes a three-month rehabilitation with a focus on cognitive behavior and community regime therapies. The rehab includes a behavioral approach that allows patients to develop mechanisms of social control which are needed to repel the attraction to, ‘hard drug, alcohol, and substances. Also, community regime therapy is used. The therapy indicates that patients will live with co-visitors, share ideas with them, express frustrations and aspirations with them. The therapy’s target is ensuring full recovery through inter-persons engagement and communication. The Cuba rehab program runs for three months and at the end of the program, verification and evaluation will be done. The program includes feeding, medical examinations, electrocardiogram, blood tests, clinical and physical treatment, accommodation, psychotherapy, physiotherapy and recreational engagement. The Cuban rehab is one of its kind and widely known globally for effectiveness. The effectiveness depends on the top-rated medical facilities in Cuba; including the oxygen hookup, electronic bed, equipment for those with disabilities, nursing care, well-equipped individual bathroom, fast internet access, laundry and telephonic services. Language translation (Spanish/English) is also provided for guardians of the patients to aid effective communication all through the program.
The Cuban Rehab Approach
The history of drug rehab in Cuba dates back to the 1970s when the famous Ricardo A. Gonzales established the first medical center for treating substance abuse in Cuba. The medical centers became 15 in a short time and attracted the top crop of people from leading sectors in the world to Cuba. Rehab program for treating drug and substance addiction in Cuba has since been based on ‘Cuban approach’ which has not only proven to be efficacious and result-based but also pronounced in the successful treatment of Diego Maradona in Cuba. The approach has been highly used for successful rehab programs in Cuba; being one of the highlights of Cuban medical tourism popular on the global scene. The Cuban approach to rehab is carrying out detoxification and rehabilitation using therapies in serene and natural environments. High profile medical experts are engaged in implementing top-industry medicine and rehabilitative skills. The experts also conduct formative and summative evaluations for the rehab participants to monitor recovery progress. Also, the approach includes allowing patients to talk with others to improve their psychosocial balance and free their minds. The patient undergoes rehabilitation for behavioral changes to overcome addiction. Skills and strategies for coping with cravings, adapting to healthy behaviors, developing intelligence for acceptance and rejection, and controlling withdrawal symptoms.
A multidisciplinary approach is also engaged in Cuba to address the complexity of drug and substance addiction. Multidisciplinary experts are assembled to give rehab patients world-class services in Cuba. The experts include neurologists, psychologists, nurses, medical specialists, and psychiatrists working as a team to give patient-centric rehab services. The multidisciplinary approach is more effective because medical experts in collaborating branches of medicine pool their expertise and intelligence together in ensuring that patients are freed from addiction. Addiction treatment is more psychological and thus the approach isn’t one-way, unlike other medical services. The team identifies what level of damage the addiction has caused and begins to teach adaptive behaviors to break away while also using treatment to correct observable anomalies. The diagnosis from each expert will create a smooth rehab direction that will yield quality behavior-changing treatment for the patient. The recommendation from the experts creates a window for each member of the team to participate in integrative therapies for the patients rather than disjointed and isolated rehab care. Using the Cuban approach of naturality and community therapy coupled with the multidisciplinary approach has positioned rehab care in Cuba on a golden pedestal in global ranking; making Cuba a priority place for treating drug and drink addiction.
North American Rehab Program vs Cuban Rehab Program
The North American rehab programs depend on an individualistic approach. The approach is applicable when rehab patients are given personalized services and not a kind of community regime therapy as it is done in Cuba. The approach is integrated into medical detox and patients can opt for in-facility or home services. The North American rehab approach is flexible and is easily customized to accommodate patients’ differences to bring about effective behavioral changes. Natural coping skills and strategies are also used at the North American rehab programs and this has proven effective because patients can get freedom from drug or alcohol addiction without resorting to drugs. The programs combine human nutrition, yoga services, gardens for meditation, massage, bio-sound therapies, and acupuncture to arrive at a lasting addiction-free treatment. Leading medical experts are engaged in rehab services in North America and they provide effective services from time to time. However, getting rehab treatment in North America costs as high as paying $18,000 for a single-track treatment. In rehabilitative treatment, experts have suggested that patients are likely to recover more on a single-track rehab than a mixed one thus when a patient doesn’t recover at the end of a rehab track, such an individual will have to start all over again—a fresh rehab program. Starting a new rehab program will help the experts working on the case make new diagnoses and adapt strategies for improvement where needed. The point is, rehab service in North America is expensive and not designed for the middle class and average individuals.
The rising death rates and psychological disorders are taking tolls on the lives of people especially the youths and young adults. Thus, affordable and quality rehab is needed to improve lives and correct the increasing anomalies resulting from drug, alcohol, and substance abuse. Unlike North America, Cuba offers specialized rehab programs for addiction and is considerably cheaper and more effective than the services provided in North America. With $26,000, you’ll get a world-class rehab service in Cuba including therapies led by medical industry leaders of ground-breaking research orientation. Cuba’s cost of rehab services isn’t up to 15 percent of what’s obtainable in North America and far outweighs the individual approach rehab programs provided there. Cuba’s record of successful treatment of Diego Maradona has placed the country higher than other countries in a track record of excellence in rehab programs. The cost-effectiveness makes Cuban rehab programs outstanding and easily accessible to individuals and communities.
Also, Cuba offers clean rehab programs free of unethical practices as they apply in North America. Some addiction treating centers in North America operate without a license and run body brokering. Brokering means they take in drug addicts in the guise of giving assisted medical treatments to them and instead, use them for profit-making. Some centers go as high as selling the pee of patients in thousands of dollars and implanting harmful drugs in them. These unethical practices are dangerous and may ruin the integrity of medical practice. In Cuba, only licensed medical centers are allowed to operate by the authorities. Cuba makes a safe addiction treating environment for patients because they do not have to fear getting worse or losing their lives while on the program.
Getting treated for drug and drink addiction requires trust. In Cuba, rehab participants are put at the center of the treatment and tended with utmost trust. Participants are not used for drug racketeering and they consent before the program starts; luring or coercing does not obtain.
Often, people generalize concepts in the ophthalmology branch of medicine; Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians are regularly used as one. However, the concepts differ. Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that involves caring for the eye. A medical doctor in the ophthalmology practice is identified as an ophthalmologist. The doctor must have completed six-eight years of studies in medicine and have been licensed to practice. The doctor is qualified after training and license to treat various eye diseases and may also engage in research on visual ailments and cures. An optometrist on the other hand isn’t a medical doctor but a healthcare professional who deals in visual testing, treatment and correction. An optician is a technical professional who deals in designing, verifying and fitting lenses for eye patients. An optician doesn’t test the patient but supplies eye wears based on the recommendations from the ophthalmologist.
Becoming an ophthalmologist requires six-eight years of study. The study usually involves spending some years in college, earning a medical degree, spending some months for residency and getting the license to practice as a medical doctor. Ophthalmologists by profession can choose to study more and specialize in certain subareas in ophthalmology. The subareas include learning to care for the cornea, uveitis, refractive surgery, neuro-ophthalmology, pediatrics, ocular oncology and reconstructive surgery. Studying ophthalmology is however different in Cuba with medical students spending five to six years on the program. The difference is also noted in the program costs and availability of facilities for medical teachers and students in the country. Cuba has become positioned on a top class in the league of countries with sophisticated systems and capacity in the world and now ranks alongside the United Kingdom, the United States and India in global medical excellence. Cuba has become a household name for global medical tourism and ophthalmology is an essential part of medicine practiced in the island nation.
Cuba’s progress in the field of ophthalmology
The Cuban government has invested in the development of medicine in the country. Medical schools are provided resources and intervention funds. The regular tracking of the progress of medical students has helped strengthened medical performance and achievement in Cuba. Cuban ophthalmology program involves the diagnosis, treatment, surgery and care for the eye using modern technologies in world-class facilities. The level of industry-standard medical facilities and facilitators in Cuba has earned the country global respect and increased patronage in medical tourism. Successful surgeries have been conducted and the success has become a testament that attracts patients from foreign countries to seek medical care in the country. Eye surgery and eye care are majorly handled in Cuba by medical doctors with years of experience. Ophthalmology practice in Cuba is regulated by the Ministry of Health of Cuba and only licensed professionals are permitted to practice medicine in the country.
The Leading Ophthalmology Center in Cuba
Ramon Pando Ferrer Cuban Institute of Ophthalmology: RPFCI is an ophthalmology center established in 1956 in Cuba and has gone to become of the leading medical centers in the world. The institute is focused on the treatment of visual diseases with special care for low vision and blindness. Ramon Pando Ferrer Institute with its over 50 years of existence has achieved huge milestones in eye care, surgery and corrective visual procedures in Cuba. The institute has become globally renowned in retina treatment and cares for ‘macular and vitreoretinal diseases.’ The Institute is well known for its excellent records in Nero-ophthalmology and the testing and treatment of optical nerve conditions including surgical procedures. The Institute specializes in treating inflammation conditions of the eye, uveitis, treating of severe eye inflammation, and the application of surgical procedures for eye care and treatment. The Institute prides itself on refractive surgeries, cornea diagnosis and management, treatment of keratoconus, and cornea transplant where it has gained unmatched recognition for complications-free corrections and treatments globally. The Institute also treats visual disorders from birth including eyelid, lacrimal ducts, tumors and stenosis from birth. The Institute has projected the Cuban government’s efforts in caring for blindness using the integration of local medical knowledge and modern technological facilities. The milestones achieved by the Institute in eye care and treatment are positioning Cuba for greater medical tourism and medical education.
Why eye care, surgery and treatment in Cuba
Quality and affordable medical care: 3,500 foreigners land in Cuba annually to seek medical attention because it’s affordable than medical treatment in the United States of America. Medical experts in Cuba testify to the progressive inflow of international patients seeking ophthalmology care and treatment. Cuba has a record of cheap medical care dated as back as 1999 when rhinoplasty was $1,300 in the US and $1,700 Cira Garcia in Cuba and abdominoplasty cost $4198 in the US and $2340 in Cuba. The quality-oriented medical services in Cuba have testaments of excellence and the cost variation between the island country and the US has not in any way affected the quality. The quality of ophthalmology services in Cuba draws patients to medical centers in the country from the Caribbean and Latin America and Finland and Japan even though they are far away.
People-based medical care: Cuban health system is centered on providing basic health care to Cubans as part of the fundamental responsibilities of the government. The revolutionary advances in medical care in Cuba are testaments of Fidel Castro’s legacies in the country. The legacies have attracted the establishment of many medical centers which all contribute to the vision of improving access to medical care in Cuba. Beyond Cuba, Castro’s vision helps to extend standard medical care to other countries as a means of promoting peace and development. The years and the progressive nature of medical tourism in the country have been aligned to the overall vision and Cubans and foreign nationals benefit from Cuba’s promotion of medical care access to individuals.
Contained COVID-19: One of the key factors to consider before choosing a country for medical care is the level of coronavirus containment in the country. The global pandemic has disrupted the physical flow of activities including the medical line and new normal is just returning to many countries. It’s thus considered essential to know the COVID-19 containment level of a country before deciding to seek medical attention in the country. In Cuba, COVID-19 has been contained effectively with a record of over 60 percent population vaccination. Cuba has devised medical innovation and ingenuity to manufacture five COVID-19 vaccines and the production has improved mass vaccination in the country. The availability of the vaccines has helped restore physical activities in different sectors of Cuban economy as well as its medical sector. The Cuban government ensures adequate quarantine for foreigners seeking medical care and this helps to identify those who might have contacted the virus before getting into the country. Also, beyond quarantine, there’s consistent monitoring of the inflow and outflow of medical care seekers in Cuba by designated government officials and this contributes to maximal containment of coronavirus in the country. Seeking medical attention in Cuba is safe because medical practitioners are fully vaccinated, and regularly adhere to COVID-19 rules and protocols in receiving and attending to patients. The effective containment of COVID-19 in Cuba places the island nation in the league of countries that have recorded such tremendous feats including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
High availability of medical experts: Cuba leads in ophthalmology care because there’s a growing potential and advancement in the medical space in the country. Medical doctors are massively available and getting medical attention doesn’t require having to queue. Cuban government’s investment in medicine is playing out well as medical universities in the country allow medical students to learn by practice and provide medical services while competently turning out well-trained doctors annually. The inclusion of medical scholarship in the Cuban medical curriculum has helped to attract the best minds to the discipline and this has translated into massive graduation of medical students into the medical profession and practice in the country. Specialists in subareas of ophthalmology are available in Cuba and getting eye care treatment and surgery of all kinds has become seamless and more effective because of the high numbers of medical doctors available to provide medical services. Medical experts in Cuba are effectively implementing the outcomes of medical research. The implementation has reduced dependence on traditional techniques but now on Cuban manufactured technologies, and drugs.
Accessing ophthalmology care is sensitive just as the visual system of the body. The eye isn’t available for trial and error and as such requires medical experts with proven track records to treat and operate as the case may be. In providing eye care, treatment and surgery, Cuba has reached a huge milestone with over 50 years of effective medical services on global standards. The Ramon Pando Ferrer Cuban Institute of Ophthalmology is the leading ophthalmology center in Cuba with excellent surgery and eye care records and testaments from Cuban and foreign nationals. The Institute has world-class eye –treating facilities and top-rated ophthalmologists who are actively attending to patients and also researching in diverse subareas of ophthalmology to improve medical excellence and care.
COVID-19 severely collapsed operational systems and health structures in different countries of the world. The pandemic started at a time the world was not ready and this worsened its effects on humans and the environment. It was a different case for countries with limited financial resources like Cuba because the economic backbone of the island state was disrupted. The disruptions were birthed by the closure of tourist centers, airports and other physical engagements. However, despite the unexpected nature of the health emergency, Cuban authorities were able to coordinate public health safety and put in place preventive and protective measures to deal with the pandemic.
The first case of COVID-19 was in Wuhan in China. The virus through human spread moved beyond China to internal communities and such to Cuba. The first coronavirus case in Cuba was confirmed on the 11th of March, 2020 after four Italians tourists tested positive to the virus (NBC, 2020). The early cases were predominant as they came at a time little or no guidelines had been put in place to contain coronavirus. The first four cases would later spread to 207,322 cases and 1,372 COVID-19 deaths in the island state (Worldometers, 2021). Cuba is a tourist-centric country and this informs the high rate of visitors coming in and out. The effect of the tourism-dependent nature of the country is evident in the early fast spread of the virus. Despite the early severity and widespread of coronavirus in Cuba, the containment level and national protocol were notable. They were notable because COVID-19 was professionally contained and public health safety was ensured by the authorities according to recognized international standards.
COVID-19: National Protocol in Cuba
Cuba has a long-standing record and huge revenue base from tourism. In 2019, the country raked in 2.97 billion (US dollars) for its gross domestic product in tourism (Statista, 2021). This striking economic growth base came after Cuba recorded a decade history of highest contribution from tourism to the tune of 3 billion (US dollars). At the onset of the pandemic, Cuban authorities had the tough task of making decisions critical to the revenue base, human lives and the sustainability of the nation. It was a contest with an inevitable option of sacrificing one for the other; locking down the country to protect lives or continuing to receive visitors for increased revenue. Cuban authorities chose the latter—notably, in the interest of Cubans.
Travel Protocol during the Pandemic in Cuba
The first cases of COVID-19 in Cuba were discovered on tourists. Thus, the national protocol specially regulates traveling for containment and protection of lives in the country. The travel protocol includes:
“Travelers were mandated to present a negative result from a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before entering the country”;
“Health status of travelers must be declared and they were required to undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival to Cuba”;
“A 5-day compulsory isolation was mandated on all travelers entering the country in which the 5th day would be for PCR—the isolation was made free for Cuban nationals and residents while foreigners were expected to cover their expenses”;
“COVID-19 testing and sanitation must be paid for by all travelers entering the country in form of a health/sanitary tax”;
Importantly, nose masks were mandated for people in public spaces including airports and adherence to physical distancing was openly emphasized for travelers” (Gardaworld, 2021).
Cuban authorities essentially provided travel protocols in protecting residents and foreigners during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorities restricted flight frequency for Cuba and placed a ban on non-essential transport and commercial activities. Group activities, recreational centers and physical businesses were included in the lockdown that was observed countrywide in Cuba (Gardaworld, 2021).
National Protocol during the Pandemic from Cuban Authorities
The United States sanction on Cuba for international finances and funding worsened the pandemic situation for the country. The sanction is evidently one of the back-drawing areas for Cuba as external trade and international services were limited in some form. The unsavory situation imposed on Cuba because of its financial not-well-to-do posed a great risk when the pandemic began. However, Cuba’s government handled the situation accountably and has set precedence for effective leadership. The national protocol for the pandemic includes an early training of medical workers, the preparation of medical students for contact tracing and reliably informing the public about the symptoms, precautions and steps to take when certain symptoms were observed (Morris and Kelman, 2020). Cuban authorities launched a full-scale contact tracing immediately the first three cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the country. Trained medical experts and students were mobilized for tracing contact persons and host cases; after which a structured, open-to-public COVID-19 testing commenced in Cuba.
Also, Cuba’s government announced a travel ban in March 20, 2021 after 21 confirmed coronavirus cases were recorded (Morris and Kelman, 2021). The government introduced a large-scale online buying and selling when physical distancing and the use of nose masks did not work well for the country. Public transport was also suspended and private vehicles were hired to commute essential workers (Morris and Kelman).
Vaccine Protocol and Vaccination in Cuba
Cuba’s government opted for a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine instead of importing from other countries. This decision came amidst tight criticisms from medical experts. However, authorities supported Cuban based production of COVID-19 vaccine. The question that arose at the heart of the pandemic was, can Cuba beat COVID-19 with its homegrown vaccines? After a three-phase clinical trial for Cuban coronavirus vaccines, Abdala and Soberana were produced, deployed for national use and validated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Abdala had a 92.8 percent efficacy while Soberana, a nasal administered vaccine recorded 62 percent efficacy. The country’s COVID-19 vaccine production leader, Verez Bencomo described the produced vaccines as, “results of independent streak reflecting the ingenious initiative of Cubans—a needed effort to contain the virus across the country” (Nature, 2021). To ensure that Cuban nationals were well catered for with the vaccines, five candidates were presented by the authorities through the biotechnologists and medical experts. The vaccines include Abdala, Soberana, and Mambisa.
The successful production of COVID-19 vaccine has helped in containing the virus in the communist-run island nation while also opening up novel revenue sources for the country through the exportation of vaccines. The vaccines, Abdala and Soberana have been announced efficacious and above the 50 percent World Health Organization (WHO) validation mark for vaccines. The efficacy validates the safe use of the vaccine. The increasing demand for the vaccine from other countries including Venezuela has proven the authorities right on homegrown production of coronavirus and has placed the island nation on a valuable pedestal in the comity of nations. Cuba is ranked fourth in the list of countries with the most effective COVID-19 vaccine—an extraordinary achievement considering the financial stand of the country before and at the onset of the pandemic.
Cuban authorities have been credited for early approval of diagnostics even before the first cases were recorded. Taylor (2021) reports that Cuba’s primary health care system was instrumental to containing the virus. The government ensured a public education on the virus, the causes and effects. The public education has also been found useful in converting people to taking the homegrown vaccines. Although, Cuba lacked certain medical materials to adequately contain the virus, the country made up by deploying well trained medical workers to take care of Cuba’s nationals and residents.
COVID-19 demanded immediate response as a global health emergency. Countries that found it tough to give a fast response to the pandemic recorded huge fatalities and have indelible marks from the unprecedented occurrence. In Cuba, a quick national response was given to protect the nationals and residents and contain the spread of coronavirus. For its national health protocol during the pandemic, Cuba authorities locked down the nation, banned travels in phases, adopted open health education on public safety and health care, and produced two globally recognized vaccines. The set protocol from Cuba’s government is exemplar and indicates a functional leadership in the country. Cuba has demonstrated a robust health protocol that is in tandem with the conditions of the citizens and thus, the wide acceptance of the vaccines was significant. The health protocol in Cuba during the pandemic included the suspension of tourism, closure of airport, closure of recreational centers, closure of businesses centers and the shift to online commercial activities. Cuba had a scheduled COVID-19 vaccination free for nationals and residents.
The COVID-19 pandemic began at an unprecedented time when humans, organizations and institutes were not prepared. Like the global cases and deaths, Cuba had a recurring cases and deaths totaling 70,000 and 408 respectively as at March 2021 (Yaffe, 2021). The severity of cases and the resulting deaths influenced the production of COVID-19 vaccine in Cuba. Among countries that made great efforts at seeing to safety, and the containment of coronavirus, Cuba played an intensive role in not only competing with top-tier countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and India among others; but also demonstrating an exceptional feat by the production of “Abdala” and “Soberana” vaccines for COVID-19.
COVID-19 is viral disease that emanates from coronaviruses. The disease-causing virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China in 2019 but has since spread to other countries of the world including Cuba. Although, the virus is from the family of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and was in spread in 2002-2003, the latest variants have shown to cause severe respiratory disorders (Kandola, 2020). Thus, the virus is code-named, COVID-19.
The Abdala Vaccine
Cuban’s COVID-19 “Abdala” vaccine has been found with a 92.28 percent efficacy in combating coronavirus. The vaccine effectiveness declaration comes after the last-stage clinical trials made in the country (Frank, 2021). The vaccine’s potency is evident in the drastic reduction of coronavirus cases and deaths across the country. According to Cuban’s authorities, COVID-19 cases reduced by half after a country-wide vaccination in the country using “Abdala” (Frank, 2021). The vaccine production has been found sufficient as over 11.2 million Cubans are considered for vaccination—a huge stride considering the resources of the country.
Abdala, a coronavirus vaccine produced in Cuba was a rapid response to containing the virus. The rapidity in the vaccine’s development influenced the trial stages and the eventual manufacturing. The clinicals at the first stage showed that, “safety and reactogenicity profile of the immunogen was favorable for the two doses of the vaccine candidate”. In other words, the first stage of the trial was tested valid for immune efficacy (Santos, Martin and Medina, 2021). 760 volunteers participated in the second stage trial for the 11.25 million population of people in Cuba including people between 19 and 54 years and a special involvement of people around 80 years (Santos et al, 2021). The vaccine development process had a preferential consideration for people with comorbidities and those with chronic diseases; their inclusion was monitored and medically controlled (Santo et al, 2021). The effect of the trial stages is shown in the quality of the vaccine and its reliability at performing that which it was manufactured for. The third stage of the vaccine development was charged for immunogen results in the third phase trial participants. The third phase had a total of 48,290 volunteers from provinces including Granma, Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba (Mola, 2021). The trials show that, the vaccine generates antibodies against COVID-19 and that, it yields a “viral neutralization assay” with “functional activity” (Santo et al, 2021).
Mola (2021) reports that Abdala was developed by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana, Cuba. The center also manufactured Mambisa but mainly for nasal administration the reporter says. Abdala vaccine is protein subunit and contains a synthetic segment of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein, which is identified as an RBD (receptor binding domain) (Mola, 2021). The notable part of the vaccine product is its quality. Abdala is thus ranked fourth in the list of vaccine production mostly among first world countries—right after US’s Moderna third, US and Germany’s Pfizer second and US’s Novavax as the first ranked COVID-19 vaccine globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) has attested to the efficacy of Abdala with a test response that, the vaccine rates above the 50 percent benchmark set for coronavirus production as a global standard (Mola, 2021). Despite being short of funds, Cuba has risen beyond its financial incapability to competing medically with rich nations globally. Although, Cuba is placed on a financial blockade by the United States for over sixty years, Cuban authorities rose to the occasion to protect Cubans from the haphazard effects of coronavirus; placing the country high among comity of nations (Mola, 2021).
Notably, Cuba has been able to present five vaccine candidates to containing COVID-19; Abdala tops the candidates based on its near perfect efficacy. The center in charge of Abdala production claims the vaccine is capable of elevating immune responses through antibody generation. Abdala was tested active for efficacy, the production was inspected and certified for standard and safe practices. The vaccine production centers were equally validated—a step which places the vaccine in a public light that would later yield a global audience, purchase and revenue for Cuba. The country’s authorities have been able to maximize Abdala’s production to source revenue for the country. The benefit of Abdala’s production has been identified as reducing COVID-19 cases, reducing coronavirus related deaths, strengthening the country’s biotechnological infrastructure and professionalism, generating income through Abdala’s exportation and sales and competing on a global standard with well-resourced nations.
Cuba’s Abdala Against Other Vaccines: Testimonials
Cuban authorities pulled off the risk and opted for ‘homemade’ coronavirus vaccine. Although, medical professionals advised the authorities such a decision was risky but it paid after the success Abdala and Soberana. Cuban government supported the vaccine production from the outset; a testament to this is the tweet from the President, Miguel Diaz-Canel that despite a hard hit of COVID-19 in Cuba, the authorities were set to provided needed support for the vaccine production institutes including Finlay Institute and Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Reuters, 2021). Testimonials from the authorities indicate that Abdala does not only cater for COVID-19 containment and public safety, it is also targeted at boosting the morale of medical professionals in the country while revamping the health sector for more rapid and responsive public health cases and emergencies. The government’s justification for the homegrown component vaccine is that, “it would create a centrally controlled and free health care system in Cuba toward a fast-pace vaccination and coronavirus suppression” (VOI, 2021). The implication of Abdala’s successful production in Cuba is that it reveals the tenacity of the authorities, the ingenuity of the biotechnologists and medical experts and the resilience of the public in safely receiving the vaccine. World Health Organization (WHO) commends the efficacy of Abdala noting that the vaccine creates optimism for the country and a great news for the people. The representative, Jose Moya is described to have knowledge of the formula for Abdala, a vaccine which has become globally competitive and required by different countries in combating the prevalence of COVID-19 (Vincent, 2021). Upon a successful production of vaccines for coronavirus, Cuban authorities targeted a 70 percent vaccination of the people. However, Reuters’ report indicates that only 6.4 million of the 11.2 million population have been vaccinated (Reuters, 2021).
Global Importance and Demand for Abdala
Abdala has proven to be an effective vaccine in generating antibodies against COVID-19. The vaccine has been robustly used in the island country and is now yielding respects from international level. Venezuela has received Abdala from Cuba and has embarked on populating it to the tune of four million doses for local use in the country. Venezuelan authorities have been reported to receive a shipment of the vaccine toward public use (Berti, 2021). The Cuban vaccine is named Abdala, the name of the country’s independence hero; this shows how significant the name is supported by the potency of the vaccine for local and resulting global use.
COVID-19 was unexpected globally. Although, there had been variants of the SARS virus earlier before 2020, the emergence of the pandemic caught the world unaware. The unaware nature of the virus influenced its effects in cases, prevalence and eventual deaths. However, countries with research and biotechnological infrastructure were able to produce vaccine for the containment of the virus. Among the top-leading countries of the world who made COVID-19 vaccine, Cuba impacted with a giant stride coming fourth in a league of countries including the United States, Germany and India. The vaccine has been found efficacious in arresting coronavirus; it has thus been in widely-accepted use in Cuba and beyond.
The novel coronavirus of 2019, known as COVID-19, fiercely swept across the entire world within just a matter of months, causing panic, fear, and uncertainty. For over a year now, COVID-19 has been the daily talk of the world as we have all been fighting this devastating pandemic together. Quarantines, shutdowns, social distancing, and mask mandates have been put in place all around the world in hopes of slowing down the spread of this deadly virus, and these precautions are still in effect in many places today as cases continue to rise and new variants of the virus emerge.
COVID-19 Vaccines Show Promise Against the Coronavirus
The United States’ recent development of their COVID-19 vaccines has shown promise in being effective against the coronavirus. Based on clinical trials, Pfizer’s BioNTech mRNA two-shot COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in those who received both doses of the vaccine and had no prior infection.1 Based on clinical trials, Moderna’s mRNA two-shot COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in those who received both doses of the vaccine and had no prior infection.2 In clinical trials, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen viral vector COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be 66.3% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in those who received the single-dose vaccine and had no prior infection.3
The United States aren’t the only ones trying to stop COVID-19 for good with their immunizations. Cuba has now joined the race to beat COVID-19 as new cases continue to rise and new variants of the virus emerge.
Can Cuba’s Homegrown Vaccines Help Solve the Worsening COVID-19 Pandemic?
Cuba is working to become the first Latin America country to develop and manufacture its own COVID-19 vaccines.4 Cuba’s development of two new COVID-19 vaccine candidates has been reported in the news a lot during the past few weeks. Cuba is betting that its own vaccines, made by local laboratories, can beat COVID-19 on its own.5 “Vicente Vérez Bencomo, director-general of the state-owned Finlay Institute of Vaccines in Havana, where one of Cuba’s most advanced vaccine candidates was created, thinks the chances are good.”4
Guaranteeing Cuba’s Sovereignty with Its Own COVID-19 Vaccines
Cuba decided to develop and manufacture its own coronavirus vaccines rather than compete with richer countries for vaccines6 to immunize its tiny island of 11 million inhabitants.6 After the COVID-19 pandemic began, “Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel said that guaranteeing the nation’s sovereignty was the main goal of producing a homegrown vaccine,”6 naming the first vaccine candidate Soberana which is Spanish for “sovereign.”6 Abdala, another of Cuba’s vaccine candidates, was named after a poem by independence hero José Martí.6 For Cubans, the names of these homegrown vaccines show that the tiny island of 11 million inhabitants “cannot be broken by a deadly virus.”7
Cuba is Hopeful That Its Homegrown Vaccine Candidates Will Be Effective Against COVID-19
As of today, Cuba has five coronavirus vaccine candidates at various stages of [clinical] trials.6 Just last week, Cuba said that two out of five vaccine candidates have shown to be highly effective against COVID-19.6 The Cuban government-owned pharmaceutical company, BioCubaFarma, said that its three-dose Abdala vaccine has shown to be 92.28% effective in Phase III trials.6 However, The Pan American Health Organization says Cuba has yet to “publish trial data on its Abdala vaccine in peer-reviewed scientific journals so that the global scientific community can evaluate efficacy rates of the COVID-19 [vaccine].”6
Cuba has already been administering its vaccines “even before receiving certification from local authorities”6 after a surge in coronavirus cases led to an emergency response in May.6 According to Díaz-Canel, more than one million Cubans have already been vaccinated with at least one dose of the Abdala or Soberana 02 vaccines.6
Cuba’s Surge in COVID-19 Cases: A Race Against Time
Cases of the coronavirus have been steadily rising since November 2020 after Cuba reopened its borders to tourists.6 The island is now dealing with its worst outbreak for the first time since the pandemic started,8 registering more than 3,000 daily cases. According to the Ministry of Public Health, since the start of the pandemic, Cuba’s total cases have reached 188,000 with 1,270 deaths.6 The government is aiming to have 70% of Cuba’s population fully vaccinated by August 2021.7
Is Cuba’s Abdala COVID-19 Vaccine One of the World’s Most Effective Coronavirus Vaccines?
With its reported 92.28% efficacy against COVID-19 in Phase III clinical trials,6 Cuba’s three-shot Abdala COVID-19 vaccine may become one of the most effective coronavirus vaccines in the world, rivaling Pfizer-BioNTech’s 95% efficacy,1 Moderna’s 94.1% efficacy,2 and Russia’s Sputnik V’s 91.6 efficacy.9
Countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Jamaica, Mexico, and Venezuela are interested in obtaining Cuba’s coronavirus vaccines.7 The reported high rate of efficacy of Cuba’s Abdala vaccine, as well as the hope for efficacy with other Cuban vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical trials, could enable vaccine exports to other countries to help lift Cuba out of its economic crisis.9 In fact, Venezuela received their first batch of Abdala just this week.10 And Caracas signed a deal to buy 12 million doses of Abdala.10 Cuba has plans to manufacture 100 million doses in 2021 for export to more than 30 countries10 around the globe.
Cuba’s COVID-19 National Protocol
Although vaccines are being developed and administered to people all over the world, Cuba still has protocols in place to protect the country and its tourists from COVID-19 infection. In fact, Cuba is facing its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic.8 As a result, Cuba is under a level 4 travel alert (DO NOT TRAVEL).11
According to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, all travelers must present a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test administered no more than 72 hours prior to entry into Cuba.11 “All travelers are required to fill out a health declaration card,”11 take a COVID-19 PCR test at the port of entry, and self-isolate until results of the COVID PCR test are received.11 If the results are negative, another PCR test will be administered on the fifth day of isolation; if the second PCR results are negative, the isolation period is over.11 Travelers who test negative upon arrival can self-isolate in a government-run facility or at a hotel participating in the government’s COVID-19 isolation protocol.11 Travelers who test positive will be moved to the National Institute of Tropical Diseases Pedro Kouri.11
All individuals are required to wear a facemask in all enclosed public spaces and comply with sanitization and social distancing requirements.12
Commercial flights are operating but are limited and can be cancelled unexpectedly.11 According to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, “if U.S. citizens choose to travel to Cuba despite the level 4 alert for Cuba, they should stay in close contact with their travel agents and/or airlines and be prepared to cover their living expenses in Cuba should their return flight(s) be cancelled. The U.S. Embassy is closed for routine services and cannot assist with travel arrangements.”11
Public transportation is operating but is limited11,12 to essential workers.12
Fines for Non-Compliance
If individuals do not comply with Cuban government measures and hygiene protocols, a fine and/or criminal penalty may be issued.11
Cuba’s Hope to End the World’s Common Enemy
As the world continues to fight the common enemy known as COVID-19, Cuba remains hopeful that its homegrown vaccines will officially beat the virus.
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 24, 2021. Accessed July 2, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/corona
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 23, 2021. Accessed July 2, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/janssen.html.
Mega E. Can Cuba beat COVID with its homegrown vaccines? Published April 29, 2021. Accessed July 2, 2021. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01126-4.
Wyss J. Cuba Bets Big on Its Own Vaccines as Covid Surges. Bloomberg Businessweek. Published May 25, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti
Brasileiro A. WHO tells CUBA to publish its COVID-19 vaccine data and to seek approval for COVAX. Miami Herald. Published July 1, 2021. Updated July 1, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article2
Pieper O. Cuba’s COVID vaccine rivals BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna. Published June 27, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021. https://www.dw.com/en/cubas-covid-vaccine-rivals-biontech-pfizer-moderna/a-58052365.
Cuba says Abdala vaccine 92.28% effective against coronavirus. Reuters®. Published June 22, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/cuba-says-abdala-vaccine-9228-effective-against-coronavirus-2021-06-21/.
Cuba reports a high success rate for its homegrown Abdala vaccine. The New York Times. Accessed July 3, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/22/world/americas/
Berti L. Venezuela receives first batch of Abdala vaccine from Cuba. Published June 30, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021. The Brazilian Report. https://brazilian.report/liveblog/2021
COVID-19 Information. S. Embassy in Cuba. Updated June 16, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021. https://cu.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/.
Cuba: COVID-19-related travel protocols and domestic restrictions in force as of May 4 remain largely unchanged /update 21. Published May 4, 2021. https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/474861/cuba-covid-19-related-travel-protocols-and-domestic-restrictions-in-force-as-of-may-4-remain-largely-unchanged-update-21.
One of the most important life processes for every adult is sleep. A good night’s rest on a comfortable surface is vital for survival and effective living. The recommended hours of sleep for an adult ranges from seven (7) to nine (9) hours every day with six (6) hours being the permissible minimum. Adults are advised to keep to this time in order to give the body enough time to rest and revitalize after seventeen hours of stretched-out activities without catching a break. Enough sleep is mandatory for healthy living. Sleep deprivation ensues when an individual is not receiving the recommended adequate amount of sleep. This is a severe condition with several risk factors and effects, especially on the brain. However, before examining thoroughly the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain, let’s consider the following reasons why sleep is important;
Importance Of Sleep
The revitalization of Body Cellular Functions
During the day, our body cells are active and working tirelessly to maintain body cellular functions without a break. Therefore like machines are privy to break down after tireless work, so is the human body system. In order to revitalize the body and promote restoration of body cells and tissues including the muscles. When humans sleep, their muscles repair themselves, with organs and cells working to revitalize and heal for proper functionality when awake and active.
Conservation of Energy
The body utilizes ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) the energy currency of the cell during active hours. Without a break, there will be a continuous depletion of the body’s energy and most of the body’s energy will be redirected towards repair activities and conservation.
Regulate Brain Function
The brain functions to control different bodily actions. Thinking and work keep the brain active during the day and at night, the brain has time to relax from external stress when we sleep. Contrary to what most individuals think, the brain is active even while asleep. Sleeping aids to regulate brain function. There is active communication with neurons and toxins are removed from the brain during sleep.
Effects Of Sleep On The Brain
Sleep is important for a number of reasons as discussed earlier. Without sleep, the brain components would not act properly and will affect many bodily functions. Obesity and depression are only but a few adverse effects of not sleeping as it affects specific brain function relating to the body system processes. There are different causes of sleep deprivation including sleep orders (restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea), chronic illnesses (cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia) and these could lead to a variety of long-term effects. Here are the outlined effects of sleep on the brain;
Impairment of Brain Function
During sleep as mentioned previously, the brain cells, chemicals, and components all stay active to remove toxins, conserve energy and revitalize the body functions. If sleep is deprived and the brain doesn’t get the chance to perform these functions, there could be an impairment in the activities carried out while awake. It has been researched and observed that without adequate sleep, the development of poor memory, bad focus, and inability to pay proper attention will occur. The mental capacity of the brain will be subject to depletion in capabilities without sleep. Sleep deprivation reduces attention span and ability to think properly.
Reduction of Immunity
Loss of sleep will affect immunity and subject the body and brain to reduced immunity. The brain and the immune system are closely related to the manner in which they act. The shared signals between the immune system and brain through the nerve endings, neurotransmitters, and modulators aids the immune system to release chemicals that will boost the body’s defense. The brain cycle following the circadian clock follows through affecting the immune system in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines that’ll improve the defense against foreign bodies. Sleep deprivation will affect this neuroimmune response. The body and brain will be vulnerable to infection without adequate sleep.
Without sleep, it has been discovered that the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the brain’s emotional processing centers will be disrupted. A disruption in this process will lead to impairment and an increase in emotions. This leads to hypersensitivity that affects the way a sleep-deprived person will react. Without sleep, individuals become more irrational, sensitive, and highly irritable. Without adequate sleep, the functionality of the brain is affected including the components responsible for the control of human emotions. The neurons are unable to function properly creating an easy pathway for a reduction in cognitive abilities.
Increased Risk of Obesity and Eating Disorders Due To Disruption in Hormone Production
There is a risk of obesity when sleep deprivation is introduced. Studies have shown that without sleep the production of hormones that regulate hunger and satisfaction are disrupted. Without adequate sleep Ghrelin which is responsible for the regulation of hunger, rises while leptin responsible for satisfaction reduces. As the feeling of hunger increases, the body’s natural reaction is to source more food which over time will lead to obesity and sleep disorders.
Insomnia disrupts brain function and increases the risk of depression. There are studies which have linked lack of sleep to depression in individuals. In fact, to treat depression, adequate sleep is always prescribed. The impairment in brain function caused by lack of sleep, there will be instability in the emotions of the individual causing erratic behavior and depression in some cases.
In time, if sleep deprivation continues, the value of life will continue to reduce drastically and death is in fact, imminent. The body is a system that must be managed and although it seems like a wasteful activity, adequate sleep is necessary. Without sleep, the brain will lead the immune system, the heart, the metabolic system, and a myriad of other bodily systems to misbehave. Staying healthy is keeping the brain healthy and sleeping is a necessity. Sleep deprivation could lead to death if left untreated. Stay in good health with proper sleep at the right time, with the right specified hours.
CubaHeal Medical is a global organization specialized in facilitating medical treatments, medical education, in addition to patient and student care in the Republic of Cuba. CubaHeal is a loyal supporter of the Republic of Cuba, the Cuban people, the Cuban revolution, and the Cuban revolutionary leadership.