Title:  The Cuban fight against COVID-19 

Speaker:  Dr Marianniz Díaz, Centre for Molecular Immunology (CIM), Havana

ABSTRACT: Given the rising incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in Cuba, and the impossibility of having enough money to buy all the necessary vaccines for the population, the Cuban government decided to develop its own vaccine. The biotechnological group Biocubafarma developed 5 anti-COVID-19 vaccine candidates: Soberana 02/01/Plus, Abdala, and Mambisa. All the vaccines are based on the protein subunit of the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of the protein, and use technological platforms for the production of Cuban vaccines developed for more than 15 years. Abdala and SOBERANA 02 vaccines, in phase 3 clinical trial indicated the vaccine's efficacy was 92.3% and 91,7%, respectively, for preventing symptomatic disease; both showed 100% for preventing severe disease and death, and had a good safety profile with no reports of severe adverse events. The political will and social commitment allowed the mass vaccination to be carried out, and by the end of 2022, 90.7% of the adult Cuban population had been immunized and9 4.8% ofthe pediatric population. Cuba became the first country to vaccinate children as young as two years old, obtained the first vaccine in Latin America, the first conjugate vaccine against COVID- 19 and the first vaccine in the world designed for convalescent of COVID-19. The solid evelopment of Cuba in biotechnology research, the strong dedication of scientific researchers and the experience in elaboration of medical-pharmaceutical products, allowed us to face the global pandemic of COVID-19 pandemic.

Bio:  Marianniz is a Cuban scientist who grew up in Pinar Del Rio, in the east of Cuba. After specialising in Chemistry at the Federico Engels Pre-University Institute of Sciences, she graduated with honours in Chemistry from the University of Havana. In 2022, she also obtained a Masters Degree in Chemical Sciences. Since 2019, Marianniz has been one of 800 mostly scientists and engineers who work at the Centre for Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana. CIM is a public institute that focuses on research and production of new biopharmaceutical products for the treatment of cancer and other nontransmissible diseases. Marianniz’s work has concentrated on the modification and chemical conjugation of biomolecules for the treatment of cancer. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, her work has also involved participation in the evaluation of the immune response of vaccinated subjects in the Clinical Trials of the Cuban-made Soberana 02, Soberana Plus, Soberana 01 and Paediatric Soberana 02 vaccine candidates. For her outstanding participation in the fight against COVID-19, she received the Medal of "Merit to Humanity, Sensitivity and Solidarity in COVID-19" from the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba, and the First-Degree Order "Lázaro Peña" granted by Presidential Decree. For her research on Soberana Plus, Marianniz also received the 2021 Annual Award from the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the 2022 Annual Health Award for Technological Research. 

About School research seminars

Seminars cover all aspects of chemistry and molecular biosciences and are delivered by visiting national and international academics. PhD completion seminars are also incorporated into the program.

Seminars are usually held in person and via zoom. All are welcome to attend.  



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