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.
Berti, L. (2021) Venezuela receives first batch of Abdala vaccine from Cuba https://brazilian.report/liveblog/2021/06/30/venezuela-abdala-vaccine-cuba/
Kandola, A. (2020) Coronavirus cause: Origin and how it spreads https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/coronavirus-causes
Mola, A. (2021) Cuba says its Abdala vaccine among the most effective in the world https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/health/cuba-says-its-abdala-vaccine-among-the-most-effective-in-the-world/2277680/lite/
Frank, M. (2021) Cuba says Abdala vaccine 92.28% effective against coronavirus https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/cuba-says-abdala-vaccine-9228-effective-against-coronavirus-2021-06-21/
Reuters (2021). Reuters COVID-19 tracker https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/cuba/
Reuters (2021) Cuba says Abdala vaccine 92.28% effective against coronavirus https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.timesofindia.com/world/rest-of-world/cuba-says-abdala-vaccine-92-28-effective-against-coronavirus/amp_articleshow/83769856.cms
Santos, I., Martin, L., and Medina, O. (2021) COVID-19: Russian vaccine efficacy is 91.6% show phase III trial results https://doi.org/10/1136/bmj.n309
Vincent, M. (2021) Cuba announces its Abdala vaccine is 92.28% effective against COVID-19 https://www.google.com/amp/s/english.elpais.com/usa/2021-07-01/cuba-announces-its-abdala-vaccine-is-9228-effective-against-covid-19.html%3foutputType=amp
VOI (2021) Abdala vaccine made in Cuba is rated effective against COVID-19 up to 92.3 percent https://www.google.com/amp/s/voi.id/en/amp/abdala-vaccine-in-cuba-is-rated-against-covid-19-up-to-923-percent
Yaffe, H. (2021) Cuba’s five COVID-19 vaccines: The full story on Soberana 01/02 Plus, Abdala, and Mambisa https://https://blogs.Ise.ac.ui/latamcaribbean/2021/03/31/cubas-five-19-vaccines-the-full-story-on-soberana-01-02-plus-abdala-and-mambisa/