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In world first, Cuba starts COVID-19 jabs for toddlers

Agence France-Presse

September 7, 2021 | 8:15am

Pedro Montano holds his daughter Roxana Montano, 3, while she is being vaccinated against COVID-19 with Cuban vaccine Soberana Plus, on August 24, 2021 at Juan Manuel Marquez hospital in Havana, as part of the vaccine study in children and adolescents.

AFP / ADALBERTO ROQUE

HAVANA, Cuba — Cuba on Monday became the first country in the world to vaccinate children from the age of two against Covid-19, using home-grown jabs not recognized by the World Health Organization.

The communist island of 11.2 million people aims to inoculate all its children before reopening schools that have been closed for the most part since March 2020.

The new school year started on Monday, but from home via television programs, as most Cuban homes do not have internet access.

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.

On Monday, it started distributing jabs in the 2-11 age group in the central province of Cienfuegos.

Several other countries in the world are vaccinating children from the age of 12, and some are conducting trials in younger kids.

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.

Unlike many other shots in use, recombinant vaccines do not require extreme refrigeration.

The majority of schools in Cuba have been closed since March 2020, reopening for a few weeks at the end of last year before closing again in January.

The government has announced schools will reopen gradually, in October and November, but only after all children have been vaccinated. 

UN agency UNICEF has called for schools worldwide to reopen as soon as possible, as “the long-term costs of closures are too high and hard to justify.”

Cuba has seen an explosion in coronavirus infections in recent months, putting pressure on its health system.

Of the 5,700 coronavirus deaths recorded since the outbreak started, nearly half were in the last month alone, as were almost a third of all reported cases.

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: September 6, 2021 – 7:29am

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France’s Sanofi in partnership with the UK’s GSK and is subject to a “final contract.”

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

September 6, 2021 – 7:29am

Britain will send four million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday, as his country raced to halt a deadly virus outbreak.

The Australian leader said the planes delivering Pfizer vaccines were “on the tarmac” in the UK and would deliver “four million doses of hope” within weeks.

A first batch 292,000 doses will be shipped “shortly”, the British government said in a separate statement. — AFP

September 3, 2021 – 5:30pm

The European Union and UK-based drugs giant AstraZeneca announce Friday that they had reached a settlement in a dispute over a shortfall in coronavirus vaccine deliveries.

The agreement will see the firm deliver the rest of the 300 million doses it promised under contracts with the EU before the end of March 2022, and brings to an end a battle in the Belgian courts.

Brussels was furious when the British-Swedish pharmaceutical outfit fell far short of its delivery promises, undermining the early stages of the EU COVID-19 vaccine rollout. — AFP

September 3, 2021 – 1:12pm

Britain will send four million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces, as his country raced to halt a deadly virus outbreak.

The Australian leader says the planes delivering Pfizer vaccine doses were “on the tarmac” in the UK and would deliver “four million doses of hope” within weeks.

Several of Australia’s largest cities are in lockdown and case numbers and deaths are steadily rising, as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads throughout the country. — AFP

September 2, 2021 – 1:41pm

Taiwan receives its first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines, a delivery organized by two tech giants and a charity because of diplomatic pressure from China.

The 930,000 doses are the first of 15 million jabs acquired by Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), as well as Buddhist charity Tzu Chi foundation, in deals with a China-based distributor after months of wrangling.

Despite donations of several million doses from the United States and Japan in June, Taiwan has been struggling to secure enough vaccines for its 23.5 million population and its precarious political status has been a major stumbling block.

September 2, 2021 – 7:15am

The United States has thrown away at least 15.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since March 1, according to a report by NBC News.

The figure is far higher than previously thought and probably still an undercount, because it is based on self-reported data from pharmacies, states and other providers, NBC says, quoting a response it received to a request for public data.

At least seven states are missing from the figures, as well as major federal agencies. — AFP

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