Cuba: The first country in the world to vaccinate children under 12

Despite the pandemic and economic blockade, Cuba is soldiering through with the national plan and its three most effective vaccine lines to cover the whole population.

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In the battle against COVID-19, Cuba has been a country of firsts. It is the only country in all Latin America to produce its own vaccines.

Cuba has sent more than 5,000 doctors to help treat COVID patients in 57 brigades to 40 countries around the world since the pandemic began. No other country has come close.

By the end of this month, all Cuban citizens are likely to have received at least one dose of the Abdala, Sovereign 02, or Sovereign Plus vaccines.

On Monday, Cuba began a massive COVID-19 immunization of its pediatric population with Sovereign 02 vaccine and became thus the first country to vaccinate over-2-years-old citizens.

After verifying the quality, safety, and immunogenicity of the Sovereign 02 vaccine in this population group, the Center for State Control of Medicines, Medical Equipment and Devices (CECMED) authorized the emergency use of this vaccine in children and adolescents.

Soberana was developed and is produced by the Finlay Vaccine Institute (IFV). Pediatric innoculations will begin September 15.

IFV conducted clinical trials in 350 children and adolescents, to whom health authorities administrated two doses of the vaccine in a 28-day interval and an additional shot of the Sovereign Plus vaccine on day 56. IFV concluded that the Sovereign vaccine was 91,2 percent efficient in preventing symptomatic disease in the pediatric population.Trials showed the vaccine to be safe and effective in that age range. Youths 12 to 18 years will receive Soberana starting September 5.

By November 15 all schoolchildren under 18 will return to their classrooms fully vaccinated, and pre-school children as well. For now students will start their fall lessons on Sept. 6 by television, as has been the practice since the pandemic began.

The immunization of over-2-years-old children coincides with the resumption of the school year 2020-2021 virtually, through classes broadcast on television. The vaccination of this population group will be carried out gradually and intensively, and it is likely to finish by Nov. 15.

Since July 29, Cuba has developed a mass coronavirus immunization campaign in adults. So far, health authorities have administrated over 4 million doses of the Abdala, Sovereign 02, or Sovereign Plus vaccines. By the end of September, all Cuban citizens are likely to have received at least one dose of these vaccines.

This Caribbean nation will gradually reopen its borders from Nov. 15, once 92.6 percent of its population would be fully immunized. The reopening seeks to restore the domestic tourism market, which was the second source of foreign exchange income to the country before the pandemic.

Since late June, Cuba has experienced a dramatic increase in positive COVID cases amid the ever-harsher U.S. economic blockade and the shutdown of tourism due to the pandemic. From roughly 1,100 average new cases in early June, the figure skyrocketed to an average of 9,504 new positive cases exactly one month ago. The last four days’ average ending Sept. 4 was 6,899.

Despite the many challenges of increased cases and material shortages, Cuba’s socialist government and health institutions are soldiering through with the national plan and its three most effective vaccine lines to cover the whole population.

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