14ymedio, Havana, 8 March 2021 — Interferon, homeopathic products, tai-chi, acupuncture and dance therapy are some of the new tourist offerings in Cuba framed as “health services,” which are, more than ever, a claim for one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The travel agency Taíno Tours, belonging to the state Havanatur, offers several packages from Mexico, at between 200 and 400 dollars a week in Varadero hotels “to prevent diseases and health problems” whose star therapies are Interferon, PrevengHo-Vir and Biomodulin T.
These are pharmaceutical products promoted by the Cuban authorities since the beginning of the pandemic to prevent the coronavirus and other infections but which, according to independent analyses, have no scientific consistency. While there are no published results for Interferon and Biomodulin T, PrevengHo-Vir is, directly, homeopathy. The island, on the other hand, has been facing a dramatic shortage of medicines for months
Despite this, Taíno Tours says that it makes “the wisdom and experience of Cuban scientists and health professionals available to travelers to improve their quality of life,” combining “a pleasant stay with one or more programs to prevent diseases and health problems.”
Program 1, for example, costs about $270 for a full week and includes, among other things, “self-care services,” “dance therapy,” “digital manuals,” and “lots of tips.”
Program Number 2, for $295, “stimulates the immune system with biological immuno-modulators in people with gradual deterioration of the immune system caused by aging (over 60 years) or in patients with chronic diseases of risk.” These travelers are given a 10 ml bottle of PrevengHo-Vir and are administered Biomodulin T “for the prevention of infections, including SARS-CoV-2,” says the agency’s advertising, which tells the tourist “You must transport the Biomodulin T in a thermos to keep the product at a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees.”
The same products added to Nasal Interferon alpha 2b are offered in Program 3, for nearly $400 a week.
Other packages include tai-chi, acupuncture or yoga classes, for almost $350, or dermatological treatments by Cuban Center for Placental Histotherapy, for about $272.
As options, more serious services are offered, such as psychotherapy, medical consultation or dental treatment, from advice on health issues for $25 to “general intensive whitening of all teeth” for $150, as well as another alternative treatment, ozone therapy, $140 for seven sessions.
The prices of the packages do not include plane fares, as an employee of Taíno Tours clarified to 14ymedio, which cannot offer it either. “I do not know if you have the possibility of buying the flights separately, because apparently right now Viva Aerobus was only leaving every 15 days, but today they sent us another notification that will see another readjustment and it will probably be one every month,” he told this newspaper. “The priority is to find spaces on the flights for certain dates and to be able to sell the package to make the arrangements in Havana.”
When asked if it is mandatory to take the medications included in the package, the operator answered yes, although she did not have precise knowledge. “It would already be reviewed if there are any restrictions or simply a response letter is prepared clarifying that any situation that happens is your responsibility,” he reported.
The sale of medical services, the island’s main source of foreign exchange through its foreign ’medical missions’ program, is not new to tourists. For years, Terminal 3 of the José Martí Airport in Havana has been covered with advertising from the Cuban Medical Services Marketing Company offering “healthy vacations,” “executive check-ups” and “psychological investigations” at prices equivalent to private healthcare in any capitalist country.
The pandemic has been lethal for tourism, one of the main engines of Cuba’s precarious economy — of the more than 4 million visitors expected for 2020, it only received around 1 million — but it is serving as an opportunity for a country that it has always been presented as a healthcare power.
A few weeks ago, the state agency Cuba Travel began offering “Covid packages,” with PCR tests included, to spend a week of vacation — and quarantine — in different hotels on the island, at prices between 250 and 600 dollars.
Before, in January, the authorities had launched the campaign “Beaches, Caribbean, mojitos and vaccine” as a claim, although this Saturday the director of the Finlay Institute, Vicente Vérez, acknowledged that the most advanced vaccine candidate, Soberana 02, will not be operational before summer.
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