Covid-19: Cuba to seek WHO approval of vaccines for toddlers

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A vaccine vial.
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Cuba on Thursday will seek World Health Organisation (WHO) approval of three Covid-19 vaccines, according to the state-run corporation that produces them, as it begins administering shots en masse to toddlers.

Rolando Perez Rodriguez, director of research and development at BioCubaFarma, made the announcement during a discussion broadcast by state media on Tuesday evening on a vaccination campaign that aims to immunize more than 90% of the population by November.

"There have already been some exchanges in Havana and at the office in Geneva," Perez said. "Now begins a procedure and exchange to evaluate the documentation delivered."

READ | SA may be at Level 2 lockdown, but your boss must still let you work from home

The country is vaccinating its population at one of the fastest rates in the world with local drugs Abdala, Soberana-2 and Soberana Plus, all authorized for emergency use by local regulators amid a Delta variant-driven surge that has strained its health system.

The country says its vaccines have an efficacy above 90% and initial results are similar to those of other top vaccines significantly reducing transmission, critical illness and death, though critics have complained those results have yet to be peer reviewed.

The vaccination campaign includes children as young as two with toddlers across the country scheduled to get the first of two shots starting on Thursday, Public Health Ministry official Doctor Maria Elena Soto said during the same broadcast, becoming the first in the world under six years of age to be immunized en masse.

Over the past week, Cuba averaged around 7 500 cases per day and nearly 80 deaths, down significantly from a month ago but still one of the highest rates in the world in terms of cases per 100 000 inhabitants. Around 20% of cases were recorded in people under 20 years of age.

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