CUBA CREDITS LOCALLY-PRODUCED DRUGS FOR BEATING PANDEMIC

Cuba has credited its success in combating the COVID-19 pandemic to the use of two locally-produced drugs that calm the cytokine storm, a dangerous over-response of the immune system in which it attacks healthy tissues as well as the invading virus.

One is itolizumab, a monoclonal antibody produced in Cuba and elsewhere. The other is a peptide that Cuba says its biotech industry discovered and has been testing for rheumatoid arthritis in Phase II clinical trials. “Some 80 percent of patients who end up in critical condition are dying. In Cuba, with the use of these drugs, 80 percent of those who end up in critical or serious condition are being saved,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Thursday in a meeting shown on state television.


Health authorities have reported just two virus-related deaths over the past nine days among more than 200 active cases on the Caribbean’s largest island, a sign they may have the worst of the outbreak under control, Sarah Marsh wrote for Reuters on May 23, 2020.


Cuba’s experimental treatments have helped it achieve an overall COVID-19 death rate of 4.2%, compared with the regional and global averages of 5.9% and 6.6%, respectively, health authorities say. Official data suggest that Cuba, with universal healthcare and a well-staffed care system, has done well in containing its outbreak. It has registered less than 20 cases per day over the past week, down from a peak of 50 to 60 in mid-April. In total, Cuba has reported 1,916 cases for a population of 11 million and 81 deaths. That translates to an infection rate 0.71 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with about 29 per 100,000 for the United States, according to a John Hopkins University tally. #COVID19