Between a turbulent epidemic situation caused by Covid-19 and the hope of vaccines, in the last phases of studies, March 2021 will perhaps generate mixed feelings for Cubans.
The third month of the year inherited a difficult February in controlling the pandemic, with days exceeding 1,000 patients, after several months of balanced management by health authorities. There were days in 2020 with cases either not diagnosed or with values below 10.
Even though it’s the shortest month, it surpassed January: 6,651 cases and 106 deaths on top of the figures reported in the first 31 days of the year. Nonetheless, the death rate is 0.6% lower than that of the rest of the world, which is 2.2%, and Latin America, which is 2.37%.
During one of the tree days when figures exceeded one thousand, the national director of epidemiology, Francisco Durán, predicted that even though the data was unfavourable, it would improve by the middle of the month.
The increase in infections is attributed, among other factors, to the arrival of many travellers since last November, after the borders were opened. The results were also caused by the low-risk perception and not complying with the health protocols established for this group of visitors and their families.
24.6% of the cases after the virus resurged are linked to people coming from abroad, which lead to local transmission, said the official, and also to an increase of paediatric cases in children under 18 years of age and infants especially.
From the 5,539 people of this group reported since March 2020, only 4,121 correspond to the first months of 2021, 203 of those being children under one year and 1,434 minors between 15 and 18 years old, just to illustrate the extreme groups.
Everything was done in order to stop this situation, from reducing international flights from the countries most infected, restricting movement between provinces, to transport during the night, until the visitors would return to the isolation centres to wait for another PCR test to be performed on the fifth day since their arrival in order to rule out the presence of SARS-Cov-2.
At the same time, health authorities refine treatment strategies and open more molecular biology laboratories for real-time PCR testing for on-site diagnosis of more cases.
At the beginning of the pandemic there were barely three throughout the country, now there are 22 spread all over the island. These initiatives already show results and the number of patients discharged from hospital offers a positive balance in relation to those confirmed.
Meanwhile, the hope of being closer to having its own vaccine against Covid-19 is growing. Two of the four vaccines developed in Cuba are already heading to phase III of human clinical trials, the latest trial with a large number of volunteers to confirm its effectiveness.
Soberana 02 (Sovereign 02), the most advanced, will be the first one to be administered to 44 million people in eight districts, and Abdala, the second vaccine proposed by the island, will be tested on another 42 million in the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo.
In the midst of a turbulent situation, the Cuban scientific community is increasingly approaching to show their own vaccines, which will protect us against a virus that has paralyzed the entire planet in a year. (PL)