Trendy Havana nightclub takes on new role as vaccination center

By Laura Becquer

Havana, Aug 5 (EFE).- Fabrica de Arte Cubano, a trendy cultural hotspot in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood that features a nightclub, galleries and spaces for artistic experimentation, has reinvented itself as a center for administering the Abdala Covid-19 vaccine, the first to be developed by Cuban scientists.

More than 400 people from that capital district were inoculated between June 22 and early August in one section of the Fabrica, as that former industrial warehouse is commonly known, Dr. Luis Antonio Oliva told Efe.

Getting vaccinated in such an attractive locale, and with the quality of care offered by the FAC team and health personnel, was a “very positive experience,” he added.

A cavernous warehouse with narrow corridors and brick walls decorated with vinyl records, the Fabrica now is set up for a different sort of clientele and offers extra benches where people wait to be called to receive their vaccine dose.

Various medical students assist there with the immunization process, recording patients’ information, taking their blood pressure before and after the vaccine is administered and then monitoring them for any potential side effects.

More than 3 million people on that Caribbean island, home to 11.2 million inhabitants, have received at least one dose of the Abdala vaccine or the Cuban-developed Soberana 2 vaccine candidate as part of the clinical trials and health and population intervention studies carried out there to halt the spread of Covid-19, according to official figures.

Closed to the public since March due to the pandemic, the Fabrica set aside another section of the warehouse for the storage of donations received from Canada’s Dubois Foundation and distributed by OIKOS, a Portugal-based non-governmental organization.

Any type of aid is welcome amid a surge in coronavirus infections on the island, which now is reporting roughly 9,000 confirmed cases and around 100 Covid-19 deaths per day.

For the FAC’s team members, supporting the vaccine effort in any way they can is a way of showing their “respect, admiration and infinite gratitude to our doctors and scientists,” the institution wrote on Twitter.

That effort has been fully in keeping with the focus on society and community that project led by Cuban musician and visual artist X Alfonso has shown since its inception.

The idea of transforming one area of the FAC into a vaccine center was proposed by local authorities “because they’ve seen that we always respond in the same way: with logistical – and especially human – support; we’re always there for whatever is needed,” Alfonso told Efe.

The visual artist also stressed the Fabrica’s close ties to the community, adding that unconditional support is required when lives are on the line.

“If we don’t help one another, who’s going to do it?” said the head of that institution, a former cooking-oil factory that was converted six years ago into a laboratory for different types of artistic creation.

Time magazine selected that erstwhile noisy industrial plant as one of the World’s Greatest Places of 2019, saying then that the FAC had “quickly become the city’s buzzy creative hub,” boasting “galleries, performance-art spaces and a dance floor that’s home to the capital’s most captivating movers and shakers.”

And its reputation has been further enhanced by visits from the likes of pop icon Madonna, legendary music producer Quincy Jones and the former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. EFE


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