Cuba Is Working on a Coronavirus Vaccine and Tourists May be Able To Get Vaccinated

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With a recorded 41,688 cases and 282 deaths since March 2020, Cuba is working swiftly on solo efforts to ensure mass production of a coronavirus vaccine for the island’s population—and possibly its visitors, too.

The plan for Cuba’s coronavirus vaccine is ambitious. According to The New York Times, Cuba’s government says it can produce 100 million doses in 2021 alone, which would be enough to vaccinate its 11 million citizens as well as tourists and send leftover doses to other countries in need. But specific plans to vaccinate tourists have not been set due to the amount of time that is required to receive all doses of Cuba’s coronavirus vaccine, and the fear that the country will begin attracting tourists for the reason of getting a coronavirus vaccine they may not have access to in their home country.

The vaccine—called Soberna 2, or Sovereign 2—is preparing to enter its final stage of testing. It is given to patients in three doses with a two-week span in between each. Gerardo Guillén, a scientist at Havana’s Center for Engineering and Biotechnology, tells The New York Times that if tourists were to receive Cuba’s coronavirus vaccine, it would mean they’d have to stay on the island for a month and a half. To curb this timing, Dr. Guillén says part of what’s being considered in their vaccination with tourists is to have the tourists receive the first vaccine while in Cuba, and then send them back home with the other two doses. Seemingly risky on several fronts.

In addition to the mass production of its own vaccine, Cuba’s coronavirus efforts have already extended to other countries. As early as April 2020, Cuba sent over 200 healthcare workers to South Africa to help in fighting against the raging pandemic. Another 1200 were dispatched to other African and Caribbean countries, as well as Italy, which was one country in the most dire situation at the time. Whether or not Cuba will make its coronavirus vaccine available to tourists is yet to be determined, but the government's goal remains to ensure the fight against this global pandemic is won much sooner than later.

Here's what to know about how vaccines against COVID-19 will work to end the pandemic:

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