Cuba Develops World's First Conjugate Vaccine: How Does It Work?

If approved, Cuba will become the first Latin American country to manufacture & produce a vaccine against COVID-19.

2 min read
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BioFarma, Cuba’s state-run corporation, recently announced that its indigenously produced Soberana 2 vaccine was 91.2 percent efficacious in Phase-3 trials.

The Soberana 2 vaccine is said to be the first conjugate vaccine against COVID-19.

If approved, Cuba will become the first Latin American country to manufacture and produce a vaccine against COVID-19.

This comes amid thousands of citizens protesting against the vaccine shortage in the country.


Why are people protesting over vaccines in Cuba?

Cuba is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths this year, with a record 6,900 cases and 47 deaths so far.

Citizens are angered by the shortage of vaccines, the way authorities are handling the pandemic, and the collapse of the economy.

They are demanding a faster vaccination programme after the sudden surge and the increase in death rates.


What type of vaccine is Soberana 2?

Soberana 2 is one among three in the Soberana series and is developed by the Finlay Institute in partnership with the Centre for Molecular Immunology and the National Biopreparations Centre.

This vaccine is considered unique as it is the only conjugate vaccine that combines the virus’ receptor-binding domain with a deactivated form of tetanus in order to boost the immune response, stated Helen Yaffe of the University of Glasgow in a blog post for LSE.


What is a conjugate vaccine?

A conjugate vaccine is developed or made by combining a weak antigen with a strong antigen so that the immune system has a stronger response to the weak antigen.


What are the other vaccines being developed in Cuba?

Abdala is one of the five vaccines that is being developed in Cuba and Soberna 2 is also expected to be authorised soon for emergency use.

Both vaccines can be stored in regular refrigeration settings of 2-8 degree Celsius. They are 'protein-derived vaccines' which means these vaccines are made up of a protein derived from the virus, which then binds to human cells to trigger an immune response.


How many shots are given to complete a vaccine dose?

Soberana 2 requires a three-dose regimen. Two shots of Soberana 2 followed by a dose of Soberana Plus, when taken in a 0-28-56 day regimen.


What is its efficacy?

Soberana 2 (two-shot) registered an efficacy of 91.2 percent in the third phase of trials, when used with a booster shot called Soberana Plus.

Iran, Argentina, and Vietnam have shown interest in manufacturing the Cuban-made vaccines, while Mexico and Jamaica are among the nations interested in buying them, according to some media reports

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Topics:  Protests   Cuba   COVID-19 FAQ 

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