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

COVID-19 vaccination center in Havana
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

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.

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.

Reporting by Nelson Acosta and Marc Frank Editing by Paul Simao

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