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Reuters Acknowledges Advancement of Cuba COVID-19 Vaccination

Havana, Dec 21 (ACN) The British news agency Reuters reported on Tuesday that Cuba has immunized more citizens against COVID-19 than most developed nations of the world.

According to the Reuters article, Cuba has vaccinated over 90 percent of its entire population with at least one dose, while 83 percent of the population is already fully immunized, which places the island in the second place at the world level only behind the United Arab Emirates among the countries with at least one million people.

Here is the full Reuters article on the issue:

Cuba soars to near top of COVID vaccination charts on decades-old bet

By Dave Sherwood and Anett Rios

HAVANA, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Cuba has vaccinated more of its citizens against COVID-19 than most of the world's largest and richest nations, a milestone that will make the poor, communist-run country a test case as the highly contagious Omicron variant begins to circle the globe.

The Caribbean island has vaccinated over 90% of its population with at least one dose, and 83% of the population is now fully inoculated, placing it second globally behind only the United Arab Emirates among countries of at least 1 million people, according to official statistics compiled by 'Our World in Data.'

What is Cuba's secret? While many of its neighbors in Latin America, as well as emerging economies globally, have competed for vaccines produced by wealthier nations, health officials say Cuba vaulted ahead by developing its own.

Infections and deaths from COVID-19 have plunged on the island in recent weeks, falling to less than 1% of their peak on Aug. 22, when fewer than half its citizens were vaccinated.

Nearly all of Cuba's children aged 2 to 18 have now been vaccinated with home-grown vaccines.

Schools have reopened and foreign tourists are once again welcome. Hospitals and morgues, overflowing in August, appear to be operating at pre-pandemic levels, according to Reuters witnesses.

"It is a truly remarkable accomplishment, given the size of Cuba, and also the U.S. embargo, that restricts their ability to import," said William Moss, director of the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center, a U.S.-based university group that works to ensure equitable access for low-income countries.

Cuba has said its homegrown, protein-based Abdala, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus shots give upwards of 90% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 when offered in three-dose schemes.

However, Cuba has not yet published results of its large-scale clinical trials in peer-reviewed journals, nor has it submitted the documents required by the World Health Organization for approval of its vaccines, according to the WHO's online tally.

As a result, some public health experts in other countries remain leery of recommending them until the results are vetted.

The vaccines, which can be produced affordably and do not require deep-freezing, are seen by international health officials as a potential source for much needed doses in low-income countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

"They have been slow to publish results," said Moss. "If (the vaccines) got WHO qualification... that could be really important globally."

Cuba's progress is being tracked by COVAX, a global scheme designed to ensure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Cuba is also studying whether the Omicron variant, which was first reported on the island on Dec. 8, will impact protection.

In the last week, new research has shown that some of the most widely-used global vaccines are likely to be less protective against infection from Omicron. The shots are expected to remain effective against severe illness and death.

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