The Covid-19 is advancing slowly in Venezuela, the vaccination too. While the number of deaths has increased more rapidly since the end of March and the doses of the multilateral Covax system – set up to guarantee equitable access to vaccines – are long overdue, the government of Nicolas Maduro is betting on the Abdala vaccine. On June 24, Caracas announced that it had signed a contract for the supply of 12 million doses of the Cuban vaccine, whose effectiveness is 92% after three doses, according to the laboratory that developed it. The opposition, part of the medical profession and the scientific community criticize this choice of the Chavist government.
“Not really a choice”
Cuban medical research nevertheless has a solid reputation on the Latin American continent. A second Cuban vaccine candidate, called Soberana 2, would have, according to the Finlay Institute which developed it, an efficacy of 91.2% against symptomatic cases and 100% against serious and fatal cases after the application of three doses. If Abdala was urgently authorized by the Cuban medical authority on Friday, July 9, neither has yet been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). “We don’t really have a choice”, regrets an official of the Venezuelan Ministry of Health, recalling that his country, under American sanctions, cannot play the game of the market and that the Covax system “Does not keep his promises”.
“If they do not send us the vaccines, let them give us the money”, Nicolas Maduro launched on July 4 to the Covax program during a televised address. Venezuela claims to have paid $ 120 million to the WHO, without receiving anything in return. “The Covax system is a failure, added the president. We played the game, we had to do magic to unlock funds that had been frozen. ” The economic and financial sanctions decreed by Donald Trump’s government against Venezuela are still in force.
Before its validation by the Cuban authority, the Venezuelan medical community widely disapproved of the use of the Cuban vaccine. And the National Academy of Medicine expressed in a press release “His deep concern about the use of products of dubious scientific credibility”. The indignation of the doctors is all the more sharp as the authorities refused the AstraZenaca vaccine because of its possible side effects.
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