Latin America, Multiculture, Our People

Cuba: big advances in the tracing and identification of the virus

The arrival of Covid19 in the country brings with it the deployment of the entire scientific community and other institutions, to contain it. So they urgently needed tools to test and trace the virus. Current advances are very important.


Ana Laura Arbesú


The search for new cases of Covid-19 in order to control its spread is one of the priorities for the Cuban healthcare system.

To diagnose one case during the epidemic, they studied 96.4 patients and in the last few weeks, 671 people were tested, explained in detail, the Cuban Health Minister José Angel Portal, in an assessment of the development of the disease in the last few days. Up until a week ago, the country had carried out 240,894 tests with 2,469 positive results, that is to say, 1.02% and they have carried out 21.2 PCR tests in real time for every thousand inhabitants.

In the same way, the total number of rapid kits rose to 199,244, which represents 17.8 tests for every 1000 inhabitants.

To be able to contact-trace more cases, Cuban scientists will make another three kits available to the National Healthcare System to diagnose Covid-19, these are vital tools in the tracking and diagnosis of the disease.

Four months have passed with the new coronavirus in Cuba, illustrating the need to carry out more tests.

In fact, recently, the number of analysed samples add up to more than 2,000 daily and it is hoped that this figure will be multiplied.

Since May, the first of these tests, the Umelsia Sars-CoV-2 IgG, has been available for the National Healthcare System and is used for the seroprevalence and prevalence studies that the country is taking forward. The rest, which are being developed in unison, complete the group of four tests, which the InmunoEnsayo Centre, a scientific institution that is affiliated with business group BioCubaFarma, are developing.

Since the end of July, the health institutions have had these tests, one to identify IgM, and another to detect antibodies (IgG, IgM, IgA) that is a combination of these three.

At the end of August, they will also have the antigen kit, the validating test, which with identify the presence of SARS-Cov-2, unique in Cuba, together with PCR in real time.

IgG, IgM and IgA?

Irinia Valdivia, one of the authors of this project, in talking with the Press, explains that when a person is faced with an infectious agent, an immunological response is triggered from our organism.

They are trying to identify all of these antibodies, IgM, the first to offer a response and IgG, which lasts longer and is capable of offering some immunity, therefore, stopping another infection by the same agent.

She explains that the kits constitute a complete set to detect the different immunological components in a sample, offering information about which stage of the disease the patient is in, if they have recovered and if their immune systems has responded.

The tests will provide details about the percentage of the population that has been in contact with the virus, and how many are still vulnerable, so that in an outbreak they would be susceptible to the illness, and how many have got a certain level of protection as they had already been in contact with the pathogenic agent.

Furthermore, they offer data to work out in a certain population the grade of transmission by asymptomatic carriers or in an open group, in a neighbourhood or group of people, the risk, for example, for pregnant women,  people receiving dialysis treatment, amongst others.

Valdivia says that this allows the health authorities to understand how to deal with future outbreaks.

The institution will make available to Covid-19 patients and the general population a set of the four tests to test and trace the virus, all produced in Cuba.

They are based on the techniques of inmunoensayo ELISA, Enzyme-Linked InmunoSorbent Assay, in which Cuba has developed and modified the SUMA technology (Ultra Micro-Analytic Application), which uses less reagent and fewer samples. The technology incorporates reagents and software. (PL)

(Traducido por Carol M Byrne – Email: Photos Pixabay

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