Developing a new vaccine usually takes a decade or more, but Eduardo Ojito, the head of the Cuban Center for Molecular Immunology, says the country should have enough doses of Soberana 2 to immunize the whole country by the end of summer. This is assuming the vaccine candidate sails through phase 3 trials and wins regulatory authorization.
“We are preparing to produce between one and two million doses each month,” Ojito says. Despite being in the midst of a foreign currency crisis that’s limited imports of vital raw materials for vaccine production, he says the country is on track to have 1 million doses available in April.
Cuba’s government is already talking about distributing the vaccine in Iran, Mexico and Venezuela. Officials say they hope to produce enough of the vaccine to be able to distribute in other parts of the world, too.
The big question: Does this island nation of 11 million people have the capacity to pull this off?
“Yes,” Helen Yaffe says definitively, “Cuba has the capacity.” Yaffe is a Cuba specialist at the University of Glasgow. She has written about the country’s pharmaceutical sector and its previous success developing its own vaccines.