14ymedio, Havana, 16 July 2021 — The suggestion made on Thursday by US president Joe Biden to send vaccines to the island has provoked an angry reaction from Miguel Diaz-Canel. Without alluding at any time to the matter at hand, the Cuban president has responded this Friday with a series of tweets in which he questions the “humanitarian concern [of Washington] for the Cuban people.”
When asked about the situation on the island at a press conference with German prime minister Angela Merkel, Biden stated, “I would be prepared to give significant amounts of vaccines if, in fact, I was assured an international organization would administer those vaccines, and do it in a way that average citizens would have access to those vaccines.”
The president, who also said that his government is reviewing whether the United States can help reinstate internet access in the island, used the opportunity to declare that Cuba is a “failed state” that “represses its citizens,” and ruled out, for the time being, the reestablishment of the ability to send remittances because “the fact is, it’s highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances, or big chunks of it.”
One of the demands that was heard in the July 11 demonstrations across the country was “we want medicines,” contrary to the regime’s insistent propaganda about its vaccine candidates, which were still in the experimental phase when a mass vaccination campaign began in May, disguised as an “interventional trial.” This newspaper has published several testimonies from Cubans who are reluctant to receive the national vaccines because they have doubts, raised by the lack of transparency from authorities about the process to develop these drugs.
This very Friday, the state newspaper Granma talks about the progress of “immunization” on the island, declaring that it goes “from milestone to milestone,” but without giving much detail on the numbers of people that have been vaccinated. The vaccines that Cuba has used in its massive health intervention are Soberana 02, which the same health authorities say has an official efficacy of 91.2%, and that Abdala, which was approved for emergency use by the Cuban regulatory agency (CECMED) has an official efficacy of 92.28%.
Officially, they are still in phase 3 of clinical trials, and neither drug has had any results published in scientific journals. Only two preclinical trials in mice with Soberana 02 have been published.
The demands for medicines and complaints against the dilapidated state of the healthcare system are evidence that alluding to the achievements of the international brigades against Covid-19 around the world is futile; the government already had to put them at the service of the internal crisis, sending 200 doctors and nurses from the Henry Reeve brigade to Matanzas last week.
Despite this, the government continues to welcome the mission teams with great fanfare. “Especially now, when the enemies of the Cuban revolution attack it under the pretext of false humanity,” says a note in the official press, two brigades: one from Panama, with 10 health workers, and the last one remaining in Mexico, with 97 members, have returned on Thursday.
Translated by: Rita Ro
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