HAVANA — Cuba has begun commercial exports of its homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, sending shipments of the three-dose Abdala vaccine to Vietnam and Venezuela.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced the arrival in Vietnam on his Twitter feed Sunday. Cuba’s Center of Genetic Immunology and Biotechnology also announced that initial shipments of the Abdala shots were sent to Venezuela over the weekend.
Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited Cuba last week and toured the laboratory that produces the vaccine, announcing an agreement to buy at least 5 million doses.
Delcy Rodríguez, Venezuela’s vice president, announced in June that the country had agreed to buy $12 million worth of the Cuban vaccine, though officials have declined to say how many doses were involved.
Another Cuban-developed COVID-19 vaccine is being produced in Iran, which Cuba has asked the World Health Organization to approve in hopes to extend exports of its locally developed vaccines.
Cuban scientists have said the vaccines are more than 90% effective against illness, though — like all vaccines — less so against mere infection.
Cuba plans to fully vaccinate 90% of its population by the end of November — a key step to reopening an economy heavily dependent on tourism.
Cuba’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Durán, said Monday that the country of some 11 million people has registered 860,799 infections with COVID-19 and 7,279 deaths during the pandemic.