On a day like today a year ago, the SARS-Cov-2 entered Cuba.
With the detection of the new coronavirus in two Italian tourists, on March 11th, 2020 the alarm sign started flashing in Cuba: the pandemic had reached us.
But it didn’t get us off guard, and it was no surprise.
On January 7th, 2020, Chinese scientists identified a new coronavirus as the cause of the dangerous disease that was spreading, only 22 days later, the Cuban Council of Ministers approved a Plan for the Prevention and Control of SARS-Cov-2.
As early as January 28th, 2020, the Official Website of the Ministry of Public Health announced that Cuba was strengthening the surveillance system to contain the introduction of the new coronavirus carrying an intersectoral plan, set two months earlier together with the Civil Defense and approved by the central government.
The COVID-19 Managing Plan was established among the main bodies of the national epidemiological surveillance for the early identification of cases and timely action.
That March 11 was precisely the day that WHO declared that viral disease as a Pandemic and by then there were already more than 98,171 cases in 84 countries, eight of them in the American continent.
Five days earlier the new coronavirus entered Cuba, the President explained the updated plan for the prevention and control of COVID-19. In that meeting in Havana, he warned that "it’s not about generating alarms, but about being duly and timely prepared."
That Friday, the president called to work with responsibility, speed, seriousness and precision, and explained that with those regional meetings the entire chain of direction of the Plan was being prepared, which had recently been updated by the Council of Ministers.
He also stressed the importance of keeping the population well informed.
Early on February 2020, began the first stage of training for health professionals and workers of the agencies of the Central State Administration on biosafety. A few days later the Science Group to Tackle the COVID-19, in addition to other instances that would also join the battle.
Time ratified the validity of each and every one of the strategies designed, including the decisive role that corresponds to the people once informed, equipped with the why and how.
Another of the key factors in this endless battle has been to always keep, together with the people, the sciences in the front line, warning, indicating, forecasting, suggesting ...
No wonder check-up meetings headed by Díaz-Canel and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, alternate with meetings with scientists: mathematicians, microbiologists, demographers, doctors, geneticists, biochemists ... and all those who with their knowledge, can contribute to this hard mission.
The prominent role of Science and technology hand in hand with government management has always been "aiming at offering a social, scientific, political and health response capable of tackling the challenge the pandemic has posed for us."
Placing scientists at the vanguard in the confrontation with the new coronavirus has resulted, among other benefits, in having health care protocols for patients with Covid-19, which have been updated continually and more and more effective versions that have made possible for the report released yesterday to reach 53,450 patients recovered, about the 91.5% of all cases.
Using science as a compass has allowed us to use mathematical models for the forecast, confrontation, and evaluation of the development of the pandemic, the use of the geolocation system applied to epidemiological management, and the use of the ultra-micro-analytical system (SUMA) as means of diagnosis and also for this purpose the use of antigen test.
On top of everything above, we must add that thanks to the science-government association, Cuba with its biopharmaceutical industry is today the first country in Latin America with a vaccine candidate -Soberana 02-, in phase III of clinical trials and with another, Abdala, on the verge of advance to that phase as well.
The five vaccine candidates the Island is currently developing -including Sovereign 01A, for convalescents- clearly shows the role of Sciences in our country and the way in which the country's leadership has advance hand in hand with this knowledge.
It Only Happens in Cuba
This Caribbean island is far from reaching the finish line in this fight for life and against Covid-19. However, in this gloomy year we have more than one reason to walk with our heads high:
- No one has been asked how much money they have or if they can pay, either in prevention work -including investigations and the administration of prophylactic drugs like the Prevengovir or Nazalferon-, as in the treatment of those infected.
-Every Cuban has received medical care because there’s always space in the care centers, the necessary health personnel have remained in their shifts.
-Among the deceased, children are not included so far, even though the number of cases reported among those under 19 is still disturbing and is accompanied by a permanent call of alert to the responsibility of families, in particularly those with children in pediatric ages.
-Only in Cuba, patients treated for Covid-19 after discharged have had medical follow-ups, guided by a protocol designed to attend to possible consequences of the disease.
Cuban solidarity and altruism have shone with their best lights in this pandemic, both within the borders and abroad where Cuban medical aid has been requested. No wonder more and more voices join the claim of the Nobel Peace Prize for the medical contingent Henry Reeve.
This March 11th at 9:00 p.m., a thunderous applause should break the silence of the Cuban night. In the first place, dedicated to the medical staff without whose dedication, professionalism and sacrifice all of the above would have been impossible; and, secondly, for all the Cuban men and women who have known how to do their part, from responsibility, sacrifice and also trust and optimism.
Translated by: Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasí Translation Staff