CubaBrief: COVID-19 cases, deaths in Cuba and Castro regime’s data manipulation. ​Venezuela’s National Academy of Medicine expresses concern over Cuban vaccine

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 ( SARS-CoV-2 ), the virus that causes COVID-19

France 24 reported today that “officials said Cuba’s borders will be reopened to international tourists from November 15, and schools will gradually open their doors in October and November. Official media is claiming that “given the sustained decrease in the number of confirmed cases over the last eight months and the progress in the vaccination campaign” the island will be reopening.

This does not pass the smell test.

Cuba has a population of 11.3 million and according to official data Havana provided through March 2021 there had been only 425 deaths due to COVID-19 in the island. Meanwhile the Dominican Republic with a population of 10.9 million and according to official data reported 3,330 deaths due to COVID-19 on that island. Revisiting the data today finds Havana recognizing 7,436 deaths while Santo Domingo is reporting a total of 4,046 deaths. Nevertheless, the numbers provided by Havana continue to be unreliable.

Professor Duane Gubler of the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore who has served as a consultant/advisor on numerous World Health Organization committees, “says Cuba has a history of not reporting epidemics until they become obvious,” reported New Scientist on January 8, 2019.

It still holds true today.

Data provided by the Castro regime over the past year contradict official claims by Havana now. Eight months ago on February 28, 2021 there were 618 cases reported with a seven day average of 751.

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On September 29, 2021 there were 5,617 new cases reported with a seven day average of 6,725 new cases. This is a dramatic increase over the past eight months, according to official data provided by Havana.

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Official data on deaths have also increased dramatically over the past eight months. On February 28, 2021 the total number of deaths recognized by Havana were 322 deaths with the first death recorded on March 19, 2020.

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Eight months later on September 28, 2021 the total number of COVID-19 deaths recognized by Havana were 7,330 deaths. This is a substantial increase, assuming the data provided is accurate.

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Venezuela’s National Academy of Medicine on Monday in a report published by NBC News expressed concern over the use of Cuba’s Abdala coronavirus vaccine in Venezuela due to a lack of scientific research on its safety and efficacy. They pointed out that “Abdala has not been approved by the WHO or any international regulatory agency” and expressed their “deep concern that a product for which there is no scientific information on safety and efficacy … is being administered to Venezuelans.” Caracas received its first batch of 30,000 Abdala doses in June as part of clinical trials, and the Castro regime claims that a second batch had been shipped.

Countries with emergency use authorizations for Cuban vaccines are Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and Vietnam. This appears more of a political operation bowing to ideological considerations than one concerned with public health.

France 24, September 30, 2021

Havana reopens its beaches — but masks are required

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Beaches in Havana have been reopened after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic — but everyone will need to wear masks except when swimming YAMIL LAGE AFP/File

Havana (AFP)

Beaches and pools in the Cuban capital Havana, as well as the famed Malecon seafront promenade, were reopened on Wednesday, officials announced, after being shut for nine months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A formal notice in state media, citing Havana governor Reynaldo Garcia Zapata, said beaches and pools would be open at half-capacity for now, and that all virus prevention measures needed to be respected.

“In pools and in beach areas, wearing a mask is mandatory, except when swimming,” the announcement said. Exercise in public places is also once again allowed.

The Malecon is a popular meeting spot for capital residents, who go there to jog, fish or just sit and chat with friends — all banned since January due to the pandemic.

Last week, restaurants, bars and other public places reopened in eight of Cuba’s 15 provinces with limited capacity — a relief for Cubans after nine months of closures.

Officials said Cuba’s borders will be reopened to international tourists from November 15, and schools will gradually open their doors in October and November.

According to state media, the reopening was made possible “given the sustained decrease in the number of confirmed cases over the last eight months and the progress in the vaccination campaign.”

That is especially true in Havana, where more than 70 percent of the population is now vaccinated, according to official data.

Cuba has so far tallied more than 870,000 cases of Covid-19 and nearly 7,400 deaths. The daily case total has steadily decreased.

By using three locally-developed vaccines, none of which are approved by the World Health Organization, the Caribbean island country now has inoculated more than 45 percent of its population of 11.2 million.

The nation hopes to pass the 90 percent threshold by November.

© 2021 AFP

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210930-havana-reopens-its-beaches-but-masks-are-required?ref=tw


NBC News, September 28, 2021

Venezuela: ‘Deep concern’ over use of Cuba’s Covid vaccine

Cuba developed three homegrown vaccines against Covid-19, but they have not been approved by the WHO and the data has not been published in scientific journals.

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A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Cuban Abdala Covid-19 vaccine in the Ciudad Tiuna neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 1, 2021.Gaby Oraa / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

By Reuters

CARACAS — Venezuela’s National Academy of Medicine on Monday expressed concern over the use of Cuba’s Abdala coronavirus vaccine due to a lack of scientific research on its safety and efficacy.

Cuba said on Saturday it had exported the three-shot vaccine for the first time, sending an initial shipment to Vietnam as part of a contract to supply five million doses to the Southeast Asian country.

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has so far been relying on the Russian Sputnik V and the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines, and in recent months received its first shipment of doses via the global COVAX program.

“The characteristics of the Sputnik V vaccine have been published in scientific journals and its quality has been verified in independent clinical trials … (and) the Sinopharm vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO),” the academy said in a statement.

“Abdala has not been approved by the WHO or any international regulatory agency.”

Venezuela received its first batch of 30,000 Abdala doses in June as part of clinical trials, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Sunday said another batch had been sent, without confirming how many vaccines were shipped.

The academy “expresses its deep concern that a product for which there is no scientific information on safety and efficacy … is being administered to Venezuelans,” the academy added.

Cuban scientists have developed three homegrown vaccines against Covid-19, all of which are waiting to receive official recognition following an evaluation by the WHO, according to the island’s authorities.

Maduro says about 40 percent of the country’s roughly 28 million inhabitants have been vaccinated and that this figure should rise to 70 percent by October. Venezuelan doctors have questioned the figure.

As of Sunday, Venezuela had reported a total of 363,300 infections and 4,412 deaths.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/venezuela-deep-concern-use-cubas-covid-vaccine-rcna2324


The New York Times, September 28, 2021

Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker

By Carl ZimmerJonathan Corum and Sui-Lee WeeUpdated Sept. 28, 2021

[Excerpt]

PHASE 3 EMERGENCY USE IN IRAN, CUBA

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Vaccine name: Soberana 2, or Pasteur (in Iran)
Efficacy: 62% with two doses, 91.2% with Soberana Plus

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Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute developed a vaccine known as Soberana 2. It contains a part of the coronavirus spike protein, fused to a standard tetanus vaccine to make it stable. Soberana 2 also contains aluminum hydroxide as an adjuvant to boost the immune system.

After testing Soberana 2 in animals, Finlay researchers started a Phase 1 trial in October 2020, followed by a Phase 2 trial in December. On March 3, 2021, the Finlay Vaccine Institute registered a Phase 3 trial for Soberana 2, with plans to recruit 44,010 participants in Havana. Researchers began dosing trial participants in Iran on April 26. On June 19, Cuban officials said that Soberana 2 has an efficacy of 62% with just two doses.

Before the Phase 3 trial delivered its results, however, the Cuban government began rolling out Soberana 2 on May 12 in a mass vaccination campaign. The government announced plans to make 100 million doses of Soberana 2 in order to vaccinate its entire population, pinning hopes on the vaccine as a source of economic benefit to the island.

Cuban scientists are also testing a combination of Soberana 2 and a boost of another Cuba-made vaccine called Soberana Plus. On July 9, Cuban officials said that this combination has an efficacy of 91.2%. The Finlay Vaccine Institute announced on June 10 that it had received approval to begin a trial of the combined vaccines in children. Preliminary results from the pediatric trial suggest the combination may be more effective in children than adults. Cuba expanded its Soberana 2 vaccination campaign to include children in September.

On June 29, Iran’s health minister announced that Soberana 2 has received emergency use approval. The Finlay Vaccine Institute said that the Pasteur Institute of Iran would market the vaccine under the name Pasteur.

On Aug. 20, 2021, the Cuban government announced the emergency authorization of both Soberana 2 and Soberana Plus. Just two weeks later, on September 2, Cuba authorized Soberana 2 for children between the age of 2 and 18. In their announcement, Cuban regulators said that the immune response in children was similar to adults who received Soberana 2.

Emergency use in: Cuba, Iran.
Updated Sept. 7

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In November 2020, the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Cuba launched a trial on a coronavirus vaccine called Abdala. The name is from a poem by the nineteenth-century poet José Marti. The Abdala vaccine consists of a piece of the coronavirus spike protein called the receptor binding domain, and is delivered in three doses. On Feb. 1, the center held a press conference to announce the start of a Phase 2 trial. A Phase 3 trial involving up to 48,000 participants was launched on March 18. On May 12, while the Phase 3 trial was still underway, the Cuban government began rolling out Abdala in a mass vaccination campaign, in the hopes of reining in a surge of cases. Venezuela began using the vaccine in late June. On June 21, Cuban officials reported that Abdala had an efficacy of 92.28 percent. Cuban officials approved a trial for Abdala in young people on July 1. The Cuban government granted emergency use authorization for the vaccine on July 9. Abdala is one of two Cuban vaccines tested in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to assess their ability to increase immunity in those who have already had Covid-19.

In September, Cuba agreed to sell 10 million doses of Abdala to Vietnam, which has granted the vaccine emergency authorization. In Venezuela, meanwhile, the National Academy of Medicine expressed concern over the lack of published scientific research on Abdala’s safety and efficacy.

Emergency use in: Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam NEW.
Updated Sept. 28

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html