Cuban drug regulator gives emergency approval to Abdala COVID-19 vaccine

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People wait after being vaccinated against the coronavirus under a poster displaying images of late Cuban President Fidel Castro, Cuba's First Secretary of the Communist Party and former President Raul Castro and Cuba's President Miguel Diaz Canel with a sign that reads: "We are continuity", at a vaccination center in Havana, Cuba, June 23, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

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HAVANA, July 9 (Reuters) - Cuba’s drug regulator announced on Friday it had granted emergency approval of the Abdala COVID-19 vaccine, which is already being deployed on the Caribbean island nation amid a surge in infections.

Approval by the Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices should help with the selling and licensing abroad of Abdala, which Cuba says has a 92.28% efficacy against the coronavirus.

A second locally produced COVID-19 vaccine, Soberana 2, is expected to be approved in the next few weeks. Cuba said late on Thursday the two-shot vaccine delivered with a booster called Soberana Plus had proven 91.2% effective in late-stage clinical trials against the coronavirus.

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Iran, Argentina, and Vietnam have said they are interested in producing the Cuban vaccines, while Jamaica and Mexico are among the countries that have expressed an interest in purchasing them.

Communist-run Cuba is battling a prolonged surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Beta and now Delta variants. Cases have jumped to a new record high, though mortality remains low.

COVID-19 cases in Cuba nearly doubled on Friday to 6,422 amid an explosion in infections in the province of Matanzas. The province is home to Varadero, the island's top beach resort.

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Reporting by Nelson Acosta and Marc Frank Editing by Paul Simao

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