Cuba's first vaccine candidate against COVID-19 will begin clinical trial on August 24

Note the date: this August 19, the 105th anniversary of the death of the great Carlos Juan Finlay, Dr Vicente Vérez Bencomo, director of the prestigious national vaccine institute named after the distinguished scientist, presented to President Miguel Díaz Canel Bermúdez and the National Group of Experts to confront the pandemic, the first specific vaccine candidate against COVID-19 from the small and besieged Cuba.

 “The vaccine has been arrived at with prudence, with measure, without showing off, taking the steps that had to be taken. That is why it was first registered properly and the first information will be given in depth by its protagonists”. The study has the fundamental authorization of the Center for State Control of the Quality of Medicines (CEDMED), which is the regulatory authority.

Soberana, the first Cuban vaccine candidate against COVID-19 in the FR (Front Runner) category, and identified by the initials FINLAY-FR-1, will enter the clinical trials phase as of Monday, August 24, that is, in human beings: 20 of at least one age group from 19 to 59 years old. A week later, the test will be applied to an equal number of volunteers between 60 and 80 years old. The second phase of these clinical trials is scheduled for September 11, when all 676 volunteers will be completed, including the 40 from the first phase.

Although this time those in a hurry in the networks were not wrong, there are essential confirmations. The steps of science cannot keep up with human anxiety. But yes, Soberana exists and owes its beautiful name to a request from Díaz Canel three months ago. Another date to write down. It was on May 19, the 125th anniversary of José Martí's fall in combat, in a meeting with representatives of the scientific pole at the Neurosciences headquarters.

On July 28, the tests in humans were started, on their own skin, by doctors Vicente Vérez, director of Finlay and Yuri Valdés and Dagmar García, also directors of the institution, who are, at the same time, principal investigators in a project which, as is tradition in Cuban science, also integrates efforts and contributions from the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) and the University of Havana.

Speaking of Sovereign, the project leader noted the low risks, few uncertainties and encouraging results from the preclinical phase in mice and rabbits. And in their case, the pioneers of the clinical phase, certified that they have experienced "a high immune response", which must be confirmed in the next few days, after the second dose is applied.

The three, visibly excited, commented in the room of the Palace of the Revolution, where the meeting took place, that the authorization for the clinical trials in Phase 1 and 2, came to them on the eve of August 13, Fidel's 94th birthday, to whom they described as the greatest source of inspiration: "the one that taught us to look to the future, to dream and go out ready to conquer it at whatever price was necessary ...". Impossible to ignore again the significance of the date.

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