Coronavirus: Cuba becomes unlikely global asset with its homemade antiviral treatments

By admin
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While international cooperation in combating the coronavirus pandemic is sporadic at best and typically only seen among neighbouring countries, the communist island nation of Cuba is stepping up its international aid efforts, providing the region and the world with locally developed antiviral medicines

Cuba has already been providing its ally, China, with the locally developed drug Interferon Alpha 2b, which prevents aggravation and complications in patients, thus helping them avoid the most severe stages of the disease that can ultimately result in death.

But Interferon Alpha 2b is only one of a total 22 antiviral compounds produced in the island’s medical industry—with the state-owned drug manufacturing holding Bio Cuba Farma being the most prominent producer.

The company has been producing medicine since the turn of the century, sometimes with the help of China.

Due to the prolonged U.S. embargo, Cuba has been left to its own devices to fight previous outbreaks, such as the spread of HIV in the 1980s and more recently Dengue fever, a common occurrence on the mosquito-plagued island.

On Monday, the Cuban government offered haven to the stranded cruise ship, MS Braemar. The ship has five confirmed COVID-19 cases on board and had been turned away by both Barbados and the Bahamas. 

Despite confirming its own first cases, the island is continuing to export medical professionals to the rest of the world. Also on Monday, Jamaican Health Minister Christopher Tufton announced that 21 nurses from its neighbor would arrive imminently, the first of more than 100, he hoped. But they have also sent doctors to more advanced nations, such as Italy.

The head of Bio Cuba Farma, Eduardo Martínez, announced that the company is ramping up the production of antiviral compounds in order to assist other countries around the world.

Title image: A woman wears a mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, March 12, 2020, after the government announced its first new virus cases. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

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