The Caribbean nation of Cuba, whose biomedical industry is currently attracting global acclaim for the impressive results its wonder drug, the interferon Alpha 2B, had in the control and management of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), is reportedly ready to save Nigeria from the claws of the pandemic.
According to reports, Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Clara Escandell, said her country which has a historical relationship with Nigeria will be attentive to the request of the country but said no such request had been made at the moment.
“Cuba and Nigeria have a historical relationship. Through the veins of many Cubans flows blood from the peoples that make up this great country. There is an enormous cultural and idiosyncratic influence from Nigeria in many aspects of our social life, like music.
She stated if a request is tabled by the Nigerian government: “We analyse the overall issue and agree on what conduct can be followed.”
On account of the reputed effectiveness of the drug, about a dozen countries, it was gathered are already knocking on the doors of the Havana government seeking Cuban help.
According to Ms Escandell, the Italian government, following the role the Interferon Alpha 2B played in China, invited the Cubans who sent in 50 biomedical experts from its Cuban Medical Brigade who are veterans in solving complex health situations and had built experience in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and in disaster management in countries like Haiti and Pakistan when they were hit by earthquakes.
Also, Helen Yaffe, who teaches Cuban and Latin American development at the University of Glasgow, providing one of the broadest insights on the history and trajectory of the drug, noted that although the Interferon Alpha 2B is not a vaccine, it is: “one of the 30 medicines chosen by the Chinese National Health Commission to fight the virus.”
In a recent blog on the platform of the London School of Economics, Ms Yaffe explains how Cuba’s early entry into the biotech industry paved a path for the small Island nation to harness international expertise and develop medicines to fight a range of diseases from dengue fever and meningitis to the COVID19.
While the Interferon Alpha 2B had been used in the effective management of meningitis, some cancer, dengue fever and HIV, Ms Yaffe argues that the drug’s brightest moment was the 1989-1990 meningitis campaign when three million Cubans most at risk were vaccinated.
“Subsequently, 250,000 young people were vaccinated with the VA-MENGOC-BC vaccine, a combined vaccine for meningitis types B and C. The vaccine recorded a 95 per cent efficacy rate overall, with 97 per cent in the high-risk age group of three months to six years. Cuba’s meningitis B vaccine was awarded a UN Gold Medal for global innovation. This was Cuba’s meningitis miracle.”