A big yes to Cuba's vaccine
Michele Curto presides over the organisation recognised for its permanent work of solidarity with the Caribbean nation and in the search for new spaces for the promotion of bilateral relations with Italy.
A highlight in this endeavour was the management of the arrival in Turin, in March 2020, of 38 Cuban health collaborators, who helped to fight Covid-19 for almost four months, supported by a group of volunteers and translators created by Aicec.
The presence of the Henry Reeve Contingent brigade left an important mark on the city, particularly because of the links established with the Amedeo di Savoia Hospital and the Empresa Sanitaria Local, the institution in charge of managing Turin’s health system, Curto said in an interview with Prensa Latina.
We considered it a duty to take advantage of that bond, that trust, in a different context, and so a framework cooperation agreement was born between the Finlay Vaccine Institute of Cuba and the Amedeo di Savoia Hospital, in December 2020, thanks also to the work “of the brilliant young Italian scientist Fabrizio Chiodo,” he said.
Aicec and Chiodo, a Finlay Institute collaborator, worked to make available to as many people as possible what were then still Soberana 01, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus vaccine candidates.
Curto said they submitted a proposal to the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, for a non-profit clinical trial in Italy, which was rejected on regulatory grounds, although he believes it was also a decision related to market protection.
Out of that unsuccessful effort came Soberana Plus Turin as an “observational” clinical trial, described by Curto as “a bit of a creative way to turn around the regulatory constraints” that prevented another type of larger study from being conducted.
In this sense, he warned that it is a mistake to consider Soberana Plus Turin as a single clinical trial, when in reality there are two trials that are in dialogue with each other.
On the Cuban side, he said, it is a clinical trial “with all the facts”, approved by the State Centre for Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices (CECMED) for the testing of Soberana Plus as a universal booster on messenger RNA and adenoviral vaccines approved in the European Union.
Meanwhile, on the Italian side, it is an “observational study” approved by the Ethics Committee of the Piedmont region.
Of course, Curto pointed out, sharing the samples, the results and demonstrating in more than evident and scientific ways the quality of Soberana Plus and the scientific data on which Cuba based its approval for the use of this vaccine.
On the other hand, referring to the level reached by the Caribbean country in the production of immunogens, he stressed that Soberana 02 is today the only one supplied in the world from two years of age, and Abdala and those of the Soberana series, the most widely applied protein vaccines globally.
He also recalled that having a protein vaccine means having a product that is easy to produce, inexpensive, storable, safe, with no adverse effects, and that can respond to so many needs.
I think that this, together with the internationalist and supportive vision of Cuba and the Cubans, makes available to the world and, in this case, to Italy, an important product for which there is no reason to exclude it from any market, he said.
A political decision must now be made, said the Aicec president, stressing: “I want to hear a big yes to the Cuban vaccine, because it is a yes to humanity and to hope”.