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Childern and Covid in Cuba

A year after the first cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed in Cuba, many children had to deal with being confined at home, between online classes, virtual reunions with family members and friends, or other forms of entertainment.

 

During those months in 2020, this group was thought to be less affected by the disease. However, the figures show that they are a high-risk group. Experts claim that most of these paediatric patients are either asymptomatic or show mild symptoms of the disease; but there are cases where the patients get to the intensive care unit where specialist care is required.

Lorena Puentes Arencibia, for example, is a five-year old girl from the central province of Villa Clara who, in November 2020, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common type of cancer during childhood according to experts.

On 13 January 2021 she was diagnosed with Covid-19, so she had to stop the cancer treatment she was receiving.

“She developed pneumonia, myopericarditis (myocarditis and pericarditis) and she had to be given antibiotics, vasoactive medication, diuretics and vasodilators to support the cardiovascular function that was deteriorating”, doctor Lisset Ley, Paediatric Cardiologist at the José Luis Miranda University Hospital, told Prensa Latina (Latin Press).

She was in intensive care at the Manuel Fajardo Rivero military hospital until 19 January and on 8 February she was readmitted to the haematology ward at the José Luis Miranda paediatric hospital where she was assessed by specialists and her treatment was readjusted in order to restart chemotherapy.

She has now recovered, but she is being closely monitored due to her previous illness and the aftermath of coronavirus.

The paediatric population in Cuba will be immunised with the country’s best formulas developed from Soberana 01 (Sovereign 01) and Soberana 02 (Sovereign 02), Covid-19 vaccine candidates developed by the Finlay Institute of Vaccines (FIV).

Dagmar García, the centre’s research director, explained that moving to the children segment with novel projects requires greater accuracy. Therefore, the products need to be tested first on the adult population before moving to children.

She noted that “the roll out of vaccines in paediatric groups is underway and has to be ready for April, when we will start clinical trials with the best formulation of our vaccines Soberana 01 (Sovereign 01) and Soberana 02 (Sovereign 02)”.

The study will be conducted on children between five and 18 years old, starting first with children between 12 and 18, “and once they are proven safe for this age group, we will move to children between five and 12”. All records of this process are currently reviewed by the research ethics committee.

Finlay officials clarified that children between zero and five years of age will not be included because their immune system is already exposed to other vaccines designed for the immunisation at those ages.

Known as the pandemials because they were born in 2020 or grew up during the international health crisis caused by Covid-19, today’s children incorporate words such as [surgical] mask, quarantine and [social] distancing in their everyday vocabulary.

Washing and disinfecting hands, surfaces and objects has become common practice for them.

It’s even fun sometimes because, in their innocence, they construe it as a game.

But they comply with these hygienic and sanitary measures on a daily basis and with great discipline. In 2021, Cuba plans to immunise its entire population with its own vaccine against Covid-19, including people in need. (PL)

(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: gcpopa83@gmail.com) – Photos: Pixabay

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