14ymedio, Havana, 24 September 2022 — The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will grant a loan of 46.7 million euros ($45.25 million) for the purchase of protective equipment and the production of 200 million coronavirus vaccines in Cuba.
This agency will channel a credit granted by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), the main financier of the governments of Nicaragua and El Salvador, to strengthen the infrastructure of the Cuban industry in the development of injectable antibiotics, parenteral solutions (serums), generic drugs and biosimilars, UNDP reported in a statement on Thursday.
This loan is expected to achieve the production of 200 million vaccine doses, as well as to increase the economic productivity of the national biopharmaceutical industry with the development of “innovative medicines and the modernization of technology.”
“This operation, in particular, will contribute to facing the health crisis through the development of vaccines that will reduce the risk of people becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus and will also contribute to the economic reactivation of the country,” said Dante Mossi, president of the BCIE, last January, when the bank approved the financing.
Part of the money will be used for the purchase of diagnostic medical equipment, health supplies and protective materials used by professionals in the treatment of people infected with coronavirus and other communicable diseases.
The BCIE, created to finance Central American integration in 1960, accepted Cuba as an “extraregional partner” and became the first multilateral organization in the area to incorporate the Island into its members after the triumph of the 1959 Revolution. The institution has not detailed the terms of the operation, but its credits are usually granted on “soft” terms, with interest rates of 3-4%.
The new resources come at a time when BioCubaFarma is in financial trouble because it hasn’t been able to collect most of the $200 million in profits allegedly obtained from the sale of the Soberana and Abdala vaccines, confirmed Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of the pharmaceutical business group, on September 14.
In 2021, the state-owned company spent half of its resources on the development of drugs against COVID-19 but has not been able to recover the investment from its exports. Although it hasn’t revealed which countries bought its products, this newspaper published in 2021 that Vietnam bought five million doses and lots of Sovereign were sent to Iran, although in that case the serum was made in conjunction with Tehran. There were also shipments of one million vaccines to Venezuela last January.
Cuba also sent seven million doses of Soberana 02 and Abdala to Nicaragua in 2021, at a unit cost of seven dollars per dose, for a total of 49 million dollars, according to a document presented last June by the regime of Daniel Ortega, when it sought to access a loan of 116 million with the World Bank.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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