Soberanas, the way to sovereignty
To say Soberana (sovereign) today is almost a magic word, as it represents the great hope of being able to deter the enemy that SARS-CoV-2 is today for human health, and therefore represents achieving health sovereignty over that disease.
It is impossible to talk about the first Cuban vaccine candidate against the virus, pioneering in Latin America and the Caribbean, without making reference to the scientists of the island who, attached to the Grupo Empresarial BioCubaFarma, work daily without spare time to achieve success in that area. But to reach this achievement, a long road was travelled over three decades in the production of vaccines to reach a total of eight of the 11 included in the expanded immunization program, which allows vaccination coverage in the country of over 98%, eliminating several infectious diseases and reducing the incidence rate of others.
In a recent local press interview, Dr. Sc. Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of BioCubaFarma, referred extensively to the experience of the country’s scientists and gave the example of the BC antimeningococcal vaccine, developed by the Instituto Finlay at the end of the 1980s, under the leadership of Dr. Sc. Concepción Campa Huergo .
This vaccine was the first of its kind, worldwide, for the control of type B meningitis and was awarded a Gold Medal by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Another contribution in the sector was the recombinant vaccine against hepatitis B, created by scientists from the Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología (CIGB), headed by the Dr. Sc. Luis Herrera Martínez, which, since 2000, has led to a notable reduction of this disease in Cuba and no reported cases of children under five years old infected with this virus.
Another outstanding result was when Cuban researchers achieved the vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type B, the first one produced for human use, certified by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Also of great importance has been achieving the pentavalent against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B, second at global level and the first produced by a Latin American and Caribbean country.
The research and development of the vaccine candidate involves scientists from many BioCubaFarma institutions, including the Centro de Inmunología Molecular (CIM), the Centro Nacional de Biopreparados (BioCen), the Centro de Inmunoensayo (CIE) and the Centro Nacional para la Producción de Animales de Laboratorio (CENPALAB), with the support of the Ministry of Public Health, including the Centro para el Control Estatal de Medicamentos, Equipos y Dispositivos Médicos (CECMED). At the close of this edition, it was made known that the Registro Público Cubano de Ensayos Clínicos published a study that includes a new clinical trial with the “prophylactic vaccine candidate” against COVID-19, officially called “FINLAYFR- 1A”, which will become SOBERANA 01A.
It was also reported that a second vaccine candidate against the disease called, SOBERANA 02 —an innovative vaccine, unprecedented among those developed in the world— was tested by the Centro para Control Estatal de Medicamentos, Equipos y Dispositivos Médicos (CECMED) to start the phase 1 clinical trial.
According to Dr. Sc. Martínez Díaz, it is very likely that before the end of this year, the country will have at least two more vaccine candidates being tested on humans.