Cuba records record daily number of coronavirus cases

Havana, Jun 23 (EFE).- Cuba has registered a record number of new confirmed coronavirus cases for the second time this week, with the Ministry of Public Health confirming Wednesday that 2,055 more people have contracted the potentially deadly virus.

The previous one-day record on the Caribbean island had been set on Monday, when 1,561 confirmed cases were reported.

Since the onset of the pandemic there in March 2020, Cuba has registered a total of 172,909 confirmed cases and 1,193 deaths attributed to Covid-19, 13 of them reported on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s cases were detected following the analysis of 30,462 samples, with 2,008 listed as local transmissions and 47 others deemed to have been imported.

A total of 34,694 people are currently receiving treatment at Cuban hospitals and isolation centers, including 9,129 active coronavirus cases – 54 listed as critical and 97 as serious -, 7,421 people with suspicious symptoms and the remainder under epidemiological surveillance.

Most of Wednesday’s cases were concentrated in Havana (361) and the eastern provinces of Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba (300 each).

While the number of daily cases in the Cuban capital has been trending downward over the past month, the eastern portion of the island has seen a sharp rise in new infections over that same period.

This week, however, also has brought encouraging news.

Leveraging the island’s well-established pharmaceutical and biotech sector, Cuba’s cash-strapped Communist government has been conducting clinical trials of a pair of locally developed vaccines and already achieved impressive results.

The Finlay Vaccine Institute (IFV) said that two doses of its Soberana 02 formula proved 62 percent effective in Phase 3 clinical trials involving 44,000 people, while the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) reported that its three-dose vaccine, Abdala, achieved 92 percent efficacy among 48,000 test subjects.

The global minimum standard for vaccine approval requires effectiveness of at least 50 percent.

IFV and CIGB said they plan to ask Cuba’s Cecmed regulatory agency to issue emergency-use authorizations for their respective vaccines as Cuba battles a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Once Cecmed gives the green light, the next step will be seeking certification from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Though international approval is not strictly necessary before beginning vaccination in Cuba, a WHO endorsement of Soberana 02 and Abdala would dispel doubts about the veracity of the trial results reported in state-run media.

More than 2.2 million Cubans have received at least one dose of the Soberana 02 and Abdala vaccines through the clinical trials and other intervention studies, according to official figures.

Cuba has not joined the Covax mechanism, a World Health Organization-led effort that aims to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have access to Covid-19 jabs, and also has not bought any vaccines on the international market. EFE


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