Cuba donates 240,000 doses of homegrown COVID-19 vaccine to Syria
Despite a decades-long blockade, the Caribbean island has managed to develop its own highly-effective COVID-19 vaccine and is offering donations to its global allies
By News Desk - January 08 2022

(Photo credit: Yander Zamora/EPA-EFE)

Cuba has donated 240,000 doses of their homegrown COVID-19 vaccine to Syria in order to aid the war-torn country in the fight against the deadly pandemic.

Under the direction of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, the shipment includes 120,000 doses of the Abdala vaccine, 80,000 doses of the Soberana 02 vaccine, and 40,000 doses of the Soberana Plus vaccine.

When offered in three-dose schemes, Latin America’s first locally developed coronavirus vaccines give upwards of 90 percent protection against symptomatic COVID-19.

During the donation ceremony at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, the island’s first Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Ana Teresita Gonzalez, said the past two years have once again demonstrated the importance of multilateralism, solidarity, and international cooperation in tackling global challenges.

“The emergence of new variants of the virus and the unequal distribution of vaccines will make it more difficult for the world to recover in the immediate future from social and economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“We and Syria are subjected to an unjust siege by the United States, and we are keen, under these difficult circumstances, to share with you our experience and knowledge in the field of the pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology,” the Cuban official added, before stressing that Cuba will continue to provide everything that Syria requires according to its available capabilities.

For his part, the Syrian Ambassador to Cuba, Idris Mayya, thanked the Cuban government for their generosity, saying: “Cuba gives what it needs, not what it is surplus to, and [shows that nations are built with science and knowledge], not with missiles and bombs.”

Despite being subjected to a crushing economic blockade for the past six decades, Cuba has managed to not only develop their own coronavirus vaccines but has fully vaccinated more than 86 percent of its population of 11 million. Over 20 percent of Cuban nationals have so far received a booster shot.

On the other hand, Syria has only been able to fully vaccinate 4.9 percent of its population of 17.5 million, a situation caused not only by the 10-year war but also by the marked inequality in vaccine distribution across the globe.

According to The New York Times Covid-19 vaccination database, only 48 percent of people in West Asia have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

This compares to 73 percent in the US and Canada, 70 percent in Latin America, 66 percent in Asia-Pacific and 64 percent in Europe. Africa trails much further behind, with only 12 percent of people having had at least one jab.

Meanwhile, COVAX, the international vaccine alliance that plays a major role in distributing vaccines to Global South countries, has been hampered by high-income countries buying up much of the global supply.

The mass hoarding by wealthy nations has also led to several cases of nearly expired vaccines being donated to developing nations.

In late December, Nigeria was forced to destroy more than 1 million expired doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine sent to them from Europe.

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