Several countries are vaccinating children ages 12 onwards against Covid-19. But, Cuba, the first country in the world to vaccinate children aged 2 to 11 against Covid-19. Vaccination began with home-grown jabs that are not recognized by the World Health Organization.
The communist island aims at vaccinating the entire island children among the 11.2 million population before re-opening schools. The majority of schools in Cuba are closed since March 2020. Although, schools have begun through television on the entire island. As there is no internet access in a major section of the island, television was the only way possible to impart education. Having completed clinical trials on minors with its Abdala and Soberana vaccines. Cuba kicked off its inoculation campaign for children on Friday, starting with those 12 and older.
The island is also eager to jump-start its tourism industry. In 2019, Cuba brought in about $4.1 billion in tourism, according to The Associated Press, or about 10% of its gross domestic product.
The government has announced the re-opening of schools in a phased manner from October or November. Only those students will be allowed to attend a school that is vaccinated. UNICEF has already called off the re-opening of schools as soon as possible. According to them, “the long-term costs of closures are too high and hard to justify.”
Cuba has worked upon its health care system with a volcanic pace to curb the Covid-19 outbreak. There were about half of the infected cases in the past month as compared to past explosive deaths.
Cuba has developed two vaccines. Children ages 2-18 will receive Soberana-2; adults receive Abdala.
Countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela have announced they plan to vaccinate younger children. But, Cuba is the first to do so. Chile on Monday approved the Chinese Sinovac vaccines for children between six and 12. The Cuban vaccines, the first developed in Latin America, have not undergone international, scientific peer review. They are based on recombinant protein technology, the same used by the United States’ Novavax and France’s Sanofi jabs also awaiting WHO approval.
The goal of the campaign is to vaccinate at least 90% of the population, state-run media said. About half of the population has had one shot, and about one-third has had two shots, according to government data.
The director-general of the WHO warned Monday that the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Tedros has recently been asking countries to prioritize vaccination distribution to countries where only 1% or 2% of the population has been inoculated.