Venezuela to begin clinical trials of Cuba’s vaccine candidate

Venezuela will begin clinical trials of the Cuban coronavirus vaccine candidate Abdala this month, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said on Monday.

The country plans to produce enough doses locally to vaccinate four million people, with trials beginning in July and results expected in August.

In March, the country approved late-stage trials of Abdala, named after a poem by the 19th-century Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

“We will be starting a clinical study with this vaccine, but simultaneously, adapting our national vaccine laboratory to produce, if all goes well as we hope, doses for four million people,” Alvarado told Venezuela’s state television.

Alvarado also said the new vaccine shipment would be used to inoculate more than 360,000 health workers, as well as begin the process of vaccinating older adults and at-risk individuals.

Official data shows that Cuba is suffering from a second wave of Covid-19 infections, with a weekly daily average of over 1,200 new infections.

Meanwhile, more than 200,000 coronavirus cases and at least 2,170 deaths have been reported in Venezuela to date, according to Johns Hopkins University data.