The progress of the mass vaccination campaign in the context of COVID-19 in the country has taken place simultaneously with the increase of positive, serious and critical cases and the number of deceased, which have increased the concern among the population about the effectiveness of the vaccines.
To talk about this topic and other questions related to the mass immunization that have now started in several provinces of the territory, Granma newspapers spoke with Dr. Eduardo Martínez Díaz, CEO of the BioCubaFarma enterprise group.
“In the last few months, there has been a notable increase of the incidence of the COVID-19 disease, which in turn has increased the number of persons suffering from the severe form of the disease and of the deceased. The main cause of this phenomenon is due to the arrival in Cuba of the Delta variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus and its rapid expansion. This new strain has the characteristics of a higher transmissibility, the highest among all the existing strains reported so far. It also has a shorter incubation period and a higher viral load, equivalent to one thousand times of any other variant.”
“This new strain, first detected in India, spread quickly across the world, causing a new contagion wave, even among people who were already vaccinated. Countries with a high vaccination coverage also report important transmission levels of the Delta variant.”
“Although this new strain of the virus does not escape from the protection provided by the vaccines, they do become less effective in its presence. A recent study published by The New England Journal of Medicine reports the diminution of the effectiveness of Pfizer and Astrazeneca vaccines against the Delta variant, when compared to their effectiveness on the Alpha variant.”
“As this strain spreads worldwide, there are more cases of people who have completed their immunization schedule who have gotten infected by the virus and died. This does not mean that the vaccines have stopped working, they are still effective, especially to protect from reaching a severe state of the disease and die, but there is a decrease of the protection with the Delta variant.”
–Are the Cuban vaccines effective against the Delta variant?
–Evidence so far on the effectiveness of the Cuba vaccines, even in a scenario where the Delta strain circulates, are good and encouraging. We should keep measuring its effect on the reduction of the severe state and death as the immunization of the population progresses.
–What are the results shown by the preliminary data on the effectiveness of the Cuban vaccines?
–In Cuba, the vaccination of the population started in the month of May and until August 14, 2.6 million people have received the three doses and had, at least, passed 14 days after their third dose, which is the time from which effectiveness can be measured.
“According to the data supplied by the Ministry of Health, only 0,96 % of the people who have completed their immunization schedule have contracted the virus and the survival was of 99,9956 %, in other words, only 0,0044% have died.”
“Moreover, in Havana, where we have been able to go ahead with the vaccination, the death rate for every one hundred persons who have completed their immunization schedule is 2,7 at the end of August 14. Whereas, the death rate among those who were not vaccinated was 117, in other words, the death rate for the former was 43 times lower.”
“It has also been discovered a low rate of secondary effects after the application of over ten million doses, which confirms the high level of safety of our vaccines.”
“The key to get out of this situation is to complete the immunization schedule and to keep the personal and collective protection measures.”
–When will the vaccination campaign be complete for our population? When will the children, the convalescent and those allergic to Thiomersal get vaccinated?
–Ever since we started reporting on the development of our vaccines, we explain that the entire population would be vaccinated in 2021. It is a commitment we are determined to meet.
“Our prediction is that between August and September we will have almost all the doses of the vaccine to immunize all the population.”
“The application rate of the vaccine is expected to pick up in September. It is also expected that the vaccination of the elderly and with chronic diseases, who are more vulnerable to complications and death, will speed up. That same month, we hope we have the green light to start the mass vaccination of children from three years of age and older.
“Between September and October, we will administer the Thiomersal-free to the people allergic to this component that is used as a preservative and we will apply one dose to the COVID-19 convalescent patients in our country. We estimate that almost all the Cuban population will be vaccinated by November.”
“We’ve been obliged to overcome huge challenges and obstacles imposed by the economic blockade of the United States to produce these vaccines, but we are making it possible.”
Translated by ESTI