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Cuban Vaccines, Latest Target of Information War

The Finlay Institute of Vaccines in Havana. Photo: Escambray.Cu

Those who follow the news about Cuba may have noticed an exponential increase in criticism of the Cuban government, accompanied by an enormous amount of “fake news” related to everything it does on the island.

Cuba’s COVID vaccines could hardly be left out, given that Cuban leaders made the decision early on to achieve sovereignty in its resolution of the problem overwhelming the entire world.

On January 29, 2021, in a press release published by the agency “Prensa Latina,” Dr. Vicente Vérez, Director of the Finlay Institute took part in an online meeting at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization in Cuba, where he stated that: “all foreigners who arrive in the country and want to be vaccinated with Cuban candidates will be able to do so.”

His statement generated countless reactions ranging from the erroneous affirmation that tourists would be offered the vaccine as of March 1st, to the manipulated version that this was an incentive to attract tourism.

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This kind of bias and manipulation is not meant to show the bright side of the moon, but its dark side, something that exists more in the minds of the writers, than in the minds of the scientists, whose sacrifice under very difficult conditions must be respected.

The headlines appearing on news and social networks include: “‘Beaches, mojitos and vaccines’ Cuba’s propaganda to attract tourists,” or “Beaches, Caribbean, mojitos and vaccines: how TeleSUR promotes tourism in Cuba” or “Cuba offering vaccination against COVID to all tourists visiting the island”; or “In March tourists traveling to Cuba could receive vaccination.”

As can be seen, the intention to show what is not happening is evident. Why?

First, Dr. Vérez’s statement was taken out of context. He was not promoting tourism but simply answering a question (not shown in the spot) when he pointed out simply that “all foreigners who come to the country and want to be vaccinated” would (eventually) be able to do so. Obviously, this includes tourists, but not only tourists.

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Second, TelesSUR has not promoted tourism to Cuba. If any reference were made in any of the TV news about such a thing, it has the same journalistic connotation as any of the media outlets repeating the distorted versions.

Third, at no time did Dr. Vérez say that this vaccine would be available as of March 1st, either for foreigners or Cubans, he only mentioned that as of that date Phase III of the announced clinical trials would begin.

Finally, Dr. Vérez clarified that: “the strategy for bringing the vaccines to market is a combined approach: partly humanity and partly that of making an impact on world health.” He added, “We are not a multinational (pharmaceutical giant) where finances are the driving concern. Rather, our aim is to improve health.”

It’s worth mentioning that despite the high levels of contagion worldwide and the increase in infections in Cuba, the numbers of active cases and deaths on the island are considerably lower than those of more developed countries with far more resources.

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Today, worldwide, more than 10% of the patients who become infected become seriously ill, but in Cuba, between its protocols and doctors’ methods, it is less than 3%.

Likewise, worldwide, the mortality rate is more than two percent while in Cuba it is 0.74%.

Currently, more than 30,000 Cuban health workers are involved in the battle against COVID and other diseases in 39 countries around the world. One might wonder if a country with this kind of attitude would turn such a delicate issue as vaccines into a propaganda hook to promote tourism.

Even if this were the case, doubtless many people in the world would be grateful for an approach that would allow those less favored in the distribution of these vaccines to obtain the longed-for protection against the deadly disease ravaging the globe.

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Instead of campaigning to prohibit other people from obtaining vaccinations in places where they themselves have benefited from the privilege of access, free and unlimited vaccination should be promoted to everyone on the planet.

The only condition for receiving the vaccine anywhere in the world should be that of being human.

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