Eduardo Vidal Chirino

Cuba will continue to assist T&T in the area of healthcare as both countries battle the COVID-19 pandemic said Eduardo Vidal Chirino, Minister Counselor, Embassy of Cuba in T&T.

“There has been uninterrupted co-operation between Cuba and T&T for more than 15 years. Cuban health personnel have contributed to the objectives that the national authorities have outlined in the field of health to the T&T people. In the current circumstances of confronting the epidemic, it is expected that this co-operation will be reinforced,” he told the Guardian Media by email.

In March, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said that more Cuban nurses will be coming to T&T.

Speaking at a media briefing, Deyalsingh had said: “It has always been this Government’s policy, to seek Cuban professionals where there is a lack of that particular speciality in T&T. As per COVID, we do have a cohort of intensive care nurses coming in. We signed off on that about three weeks ago.”

Neither the Cuban Embassy, nor the Health Minister gave details on how many Cuban nurses will arrive in T&T.

The Cuban Embassy also declined to comment on the exact number of Cuban doctors and nurses in T&T at this time.

Vidal said the fight against the new COVID-19 spread will be a tough one.

“This is a new fight, and everybody has to learn in the middle of the combat. That’s why co-operation is very important, especially at the regional level, for example within the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), that it is going to be called in the next days a technical meeting on COVID-19, after having celebrated an extraordinary meeting of Ministers of Foreign Relations and Ministers of Health on the subject. We have no doubt that working together we will overcome it.”

He spoke about Cuba’s successful healthcare system and how it is coping with the COVID-19 challenges and how it is a model for countries like T&T.

He said Cuba has an integrated Health System, from primary attention in every community, with a doctor for almost 120 families, covering the entire country and from this point on, the rest of components such as polyclinics, hospitals, the specialised centres, the research institutes and the schools of medicine, all of them working towards the same goal.

“Just to give an example, more than nine million people, out of a population of 11.2 million people have been surveyed in their communities to identify any respiratory symptoms thanks to the efforts of more than 28,000 medical science students and their teachers, as well as mass organisations.”

Demand for Interferon

Vidal also spoke about the Cuban drug, Interferon Alpha 2-B which has gotten a lot of attention lately as it supposed to be successful in dealing with the effects of the COVID-19.

Countries worldwide have been going to Cuba for this drug.

“Until Thursday, March 26, our Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) received more than 45 requests from different countries to acquire Recombinant Human Interferon Alpha 2b, due to its proven effectiveness against different viruses with similar characteristics and its potential to improve respiratory conditions. The drug “interferes” with viral multiplication. Its function is aimed at creating an inhibition mechanism in the body’s first level of response. That’s why currently it is being used in patients affected by the new coronavirus outbreak, and it has offered favourable results in China, Cuba and other nations.”

He added that the Director-General of Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology reports that companies and entities from more than 70 countries have requested to acquire the Infereferon Alfa 2 B Cuban product that contributes to the treatment of those infected with the SARS CoViD-2 virus.

In addition, he noted that other products similar to Interferon are being developed in Cuba that will be on world markets in the future.

“Another 15 Cuban products, at different stages of development, are incorporated or are strong candidates to be used in the battle against COVID-19. Of these total, 9 products are in the phase of clinical trial.”