Cuba and Vaccine
Here we are, more than a year into the pandemic and with millions dead around the globe, and still there is no waiver of intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines. It's disgusting.
In the Latin American and Caribbean region only 20% of people are vaccinated.
It gets even worse for countries that we've targeted for regime change.
A month later, Venezuelan authorities said they had finally closed in on making a crucial $120 million payment to COVAX required to access vaccines, without providing details about the origins of the funds. But last Thursday, the country’s vice president Delcy Rodríguez announced that payments covering the final $10 million had been blocked.
Nevermind that Venezuela has to pay so much, but that they couldn't even buy life-saving vaccines is immoral. It's a similar story for Cuba.
In April 2020, the Cuban government said a Colombian cargo carrier declined to deliver a large shipment of masks and ventilators sent by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma because the shipper had an American shareholder. Cuban authorities also hoped to obtain ventilators from familiar Swiss suppliers, but claim new business was made impossible after the firms were acquired by a U.S.-based owner.
Faced with a health care crisis because of an inhumane embargo, Cuba found a way. The island nation began producing its own medical gear such as ventilators and CT scanners, saving millions of dollars in the process.
However, Cuba's big success was it's production of Covid vaccines, two of which are cleared for widespread use. Venezuela, unable to buy the expensive American vaccines, have switched to Cuba's more modestly priced Covid vaccine.
Authorities did not specify how many doses had arrived from Cuba, but did say that Venezuela had signed a contract to purchase 12 million doses of the shot. Cuba said earlier this week that the three-shot Abdala vaccine had proved 92.28% effective in last-stage clinical trials.
Many of those receiving those Cuban-made vaccines will be receiving them from Cuban doctors.
A few meters away, in the same room, as if to confirm that intrigue and lies will never undermine the prestige of Cuban medicine, Juan Velázquez, a 57-year-old driver, admits, "I had my doubts when I heard about this vaccine; some people out there don't say very good things about it."
“So why did you come, despite your doubts?” I ask.
“I'm here because the vaccine is Cuban; I want to take care of my life.”
Yesterday Vice President Harris traveled to Vietnam and promised them 1 million additional COVID vaccine doses. The same day Cuba also offered Vietnam Covid vaccine doses, but Cuba offered one other thing that Harris could never offer - sharing the technology.
Cuba will supply large quantities of its home-grown COVID-19 vaccine, Abdala, to Vietnam and also transfer the production technology to the Southeast Asian country by the end of the year, the Vietnamese health ministry said on Tuesday.
It's amazing what can happen when you eliminate the profit motive. Vietnam is not the only nation benefiting. Iran, also under a brutal sanctions policy like Venezuela, is already producing one of Cuba's vaccines.
If it wasn't for Cuba, the tens of millions of people in Venezuela and Iran would be defenseless from Covid because of our sanctions.
Mexico, Argentina and Jamaica have also expressed an interest in producing or buying Cuba's COVID-19 vaccines, some of which are proven effective against the Delta variant (unlike many of our vaccines).