Cuba prepares late-stage trials for homegrown vaccine

Feb. 17, 2021

With Cuba reeling from the coronavirus pandemic like much of the world, the island nation has set its sights on inoculating its citizens with a vaccine produced on its shores.

Called Soberana 2, the conjugate vaccine was shown to be about 70 percent effective after its first dose in early trials. The government is now laying the groundwork for a large phase 3 trial that will include 42,000 people in Cuba starting in March, and another trial of 50,000 people in Iran. 

The country is reportedly hoping to inoculate its entire population of 11 million by the end of the year, but manufacturing capacity remains an issue.  Although Cuba has a successful track-record in biotech and drug development, the island lacks the capacity to reach its goal of manufacturing 100 million doses of its vaccine. According to the BBC, the country is thus in talks with countries in the EU and Canada about scaling up production to meet demand at home and abroad with several countries, such as Jamaica, Vietnam, Pakistan and Venezuela expressing interest in buying supplies.

If given the go-ahead, Cuba’s coronavirus shot would be the first approved from Latin America.