Millions More Syringes Needed! Contribute to Help Vaccinate Entire Cuban Population!
By Mark Friedman and Brenda Lopez
LOS ANGELES, June 29, 2021—The Saving Lives Campaign, a broad coalition of local and national organizations opposed to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and Global Health Partners, a U.S.-based nonprofit with a long history of sending humanitarian medical donations to Cuba, recently launched a broad-based, urgent drive to send vaccine syringes to Cuba.
The campaign has been a resounding success so far, with 4 million syringes already on their way to Cuba! But many more syringes are desperately needed.
The Cuban government has ambitious plans to vaccinate the country’s entire population by the end of the year, creating herd immunity in the Caribbean nation against the Covid-19 pandemic. It plans to produce 100 million doses of vaccines, developed and manufactured in Cuba, to meet not only domestic goals but also its commitment to sharing its low-cost injections with countries throughout the developing world.
The news from Havana about the success of the domestically produced vaccines highlight the importance of this campaign.
Cuba has developed five vaccines to inoculate people against the Covid-19 virus. Two of these recently completed phase-three clinical trials. Last week Cuba announced that its Abdala vaccine is 92.3% effective in a three-dose vaccination scheme. Havana said it will waive “intellectual property” rights, which means that the developing world will finally have access to an effective, affordable, anti-Covid vaccine. Earlier, Cuba had announced its Soberana2 vaccine was found to be 62% effective with only two of its three doses.
Since Cuba now has two effective vaccines, all it needs to inoculate its people are syringes. A total of 30 million syringes to vaccinate the entire population are reportedly needed, but the country is roughly 20 million short.
In an interview, Global Health Partners president Bob Schwartz described to these reporters why the syringe campaign is so important. “First, it will save lives,” he said. “Until their population is fully vaccinated, Covid cases will continue to spread across the island. Second, Cuba’s economy, which has been ravaged by the U.S. blockade primarily, and then the pandemic, will continue to suffer until it’s once again a safe travel destination. Shortages of food and essential medicines, which is a serious problem today in Cuba, will improve as soon as Cuba can once again generate hard currency. And finally, as their Foreign Minister highlighted at the United Nations last week, Cuba has been unable to purchase essential medicines and medical supplies directly from U.S. manufacturers,” due to the U.S. embargo.
Two months ago, when the campaign was launched, organizers in the United States set modest goals: raising $100,000 and sending 2-3 million syringes to Cuba. The response to the U.S. appeal, however, has been enthusiastic and overwhelming. The campaign has raised more than $425,000 so far and has already purchased some 4 million syringes to support Cuba’s ambitious mass vaccination campaign!
As this article goes live, these syringes are on their way to Cuba.
Campaign organizers have now upped the fundraising goal to $500,000. They aim to purchase several million more syringes, which will bring Cuba much closer to being able to vaccinate its entire population by the end of the year.
This is an international effort with solidarity organizations in many countries taking syringe goals. The nationwide caravans against the U.S. blockade of Cuba have also taken collections for this effort.
To contribute, or for more information, contact: Vaccination Syringes for Cuba – Global Health Partners (ghpartners.org)
Brenda Lopez and Mark Friedman are co-coordinators of the Los Angeles US Hands off Cuba Committee (http://ushandsoffcubacommittee.com/).