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Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Friday, April 9, 2021

Effectiveness of Cuban biotech drugs for Covid-19 control highlighted

Havana, Apr 9.- Cuba's strategy for the control of COVID-19 has as a fundamental pillar the improvement of care for infected patients, to reduce the risk of severity and death.

On the other hand, in the world, the existence of vaccines and advanced clinical trials against the disease prompts many countries to bet only on immunization as a way to control the disease.

According to the World Health Organization, for every million dollars invested in vaccines, only 15 thousand are used in the development of drugs for the treatment of the disease.

This strategy is based on the so-called herd, collective or group immunity, which occurs when a sufficient number of individuals are protected against a certain infection, and act as a firewall, preventing the pathogen from reaching those who have no protection.

However, health authorities warn that this type of defense is only effective when at least 70 percent of the population is vaccinated; while to date just over 600 million people have received vaccines against COVID-19 (out of a world population of seven billion).

At this rate, immunization will not be able to control, in the short term, the levels of contagion with the virus that causes Covid-19, and therefore, the disease will continue to take the lives of thousands of people daily.

In order to face this reality, and reduce the risk of death for those infected, Cuba has, since the beginning of 2020, a protocol for the control of the disease that stratifies patients early, and determines a treatment that avoids the evolution to critical stages.

José Ángel Portal Miranda, Minister of Public Health, assures that in the country the containment of the pandemic has been supported, among other aspects, in the access to novel medicines produced in the country.

According to health authorities, 85% of the products used in the Action Protocol for COVID-19 are produced by the Cuban Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry.

In times of pandemic, more than a thousand investigations have been approved and launched, including clinical and observational studies.

As examples of innovative national drugs for the treatment of severe disease, the monoclonal antibody Itolizumab (Anti CD6) and the peptide Jusvinza (CIGB 258) stand out.

The first, developed in 1995 at the Center for Molecular Immunology, was originally used to treat certain types of cancer, and as a result of the pandemic its effectiveness was investigated and proven in the treatment of people diagnosed with COVID-19.

The studies showed that in critically ill patients, the recovery rate was higher than 80% and in the case of cares prone to worsening their clinical picture, more than 95% recovered successfully.

On the other hand, Jusvinza, produced at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), was at first a molecule designed to treat autoimmune diseases, mainly rheumatoid arthritis.

It was also evaluated if it worked with people in a serious and critical condition of COVID-19, and its effectiveness was demonstrated, with an overall recovery rate greater than 85 percent, in this type of patients.

Likewise, in the preventive plane, Biomodulin T, from the National Center for Biopreparations, is included in the Cuban protocol to stimulate the immune system of people belonging to vulnerable groups so that, in case of infection, their response to the virus is better.

For the same purpose, Hebertrans or Transfer Factor (from CIGB) is used, which has the property of improving the response of patients with a history of immune deficiency.

Preventively, Nasalferon is also used, which enhances the immune system, and shows results in reducing infections in vulnerable groups.

Until the beginning of March, it had been applied to more than 100,000 people, of which 99.4 percent had remained healthy and only 634 had been infected with COVID-19, all with a satisfactory evolution.

Already in the treatment of moderate disease, Recombinant Human Interferon alpha 2b (from CIGB) is used in conjunction with other drugs, to prevent the progression to severity of patients.

The combination of this drug with gamma interferon is Heberferon, which has shown great therapeutic efficacy in reducing the time required to eliminate the virus.

Specialists highlight that the repositioning capacity of these products (originally developed for other applications) is one of the achievements of Cuban medicine and biotechnology, which have led to current results in the treatment of patients.

At the end of March, 76,276 patients had been diagnosed with the new coronavirus in Cuba, of which 71,493 (93.7%) had recovered and 425 have died from complications associated with COVID-19.

On the other hand, the survival rate of seriously and critically ill patients seen in the country is above 78%.

The statistics of survival to Covid-19 in Cuba, much higher than those reported in the world, are commendable results in the control of the disease that have been possible because the country faces the pandemic with a solid biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, and has been able to strategically manage these resources for innovation. (Text and photo: ACN)