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Friday, July 23, 2021

‘Abdala’: What’s the secret behind Cuba’s Arabic-named Covid-19 vaccine?

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Cuban researchers decided to label their most successful anti-Covid vaccine with the Arabic name “Abdala.”

Cuba’s state-run biotech corporation, BioCubaFarma, confirmed on Tuesday that one of its anti-Covid vaccines has proved to be 92.28% effective after three shots in late-stage clinical trials.

The highly effective vaccine was named ‘Abdala’ and is among the most effective Covid vaccines in the world, according to data from clinical trials. 

 

“Hit by the pandemic, our scientists at the Finlay Institute and Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology have risen above all the obstacles and given us two very effective vaccines,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel tweeted.

The Cuban vaccine is now among the top 3 most effective vaccines worldwide after Pfizer-BioNTech’s 95% and Moderna’s 94.1%, while the Russian Sputnik V proved to be 91.6%, which is less effective than Abdala.

The latest achievement made Cuba the first country in Latin America to develop a successful vaccine against Covid-19 and the smallest nation in the world to do so.

Abdala vaccine is currently in the final stage of clinical trials, and is expected to be granted emergency authority use by local regulators soon, which will make it eligible to be sold globally.

Since giant pharmaceutical companies first produced anti-Covid vaccines in 2020, the Caribbean island has refused to import foreign vaccines while working to develop its own.

On Saturday, BioCubaFarma, said that another vaccine of its own, Sovereign 2, showed 62% efficacy after two of its three required doses. Results for the full course are expected to be out in the next few weeks.

Cuban health authorities have launched an emergency inoculation campaign in Havana before the completion of Phase 3 trials, which assess the efficacy and safety of a vaccine.

Local health officials said the step was necessary to curb the South African variant from spreading. To date, around 9% of the Cuban population have received the full course of either Abdala or Sovereign 2 vaccines. 

Several countries from Mexico to Argentina, Vietnam and Jamaica have expressed interest in the Cuban vaccines. 

Arabic name

According to LSE Latin America and Caribbean Centre, Abdala vaccine is named after a poem by the famous national poet José Martí, who was known to have great love for Arabs.

The poet who died at the age of 42, named the main character of one of his plays ‘Abdala’, a brave hero who was joined with his Arab companions in a war against the Spanish colonisers.

The late poet has another poetry book called “The Little Ismail” which narrates the story of Prophets Ismail and Ibrahim.


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