“This is not an RNA vaccine, with no history, being administered to children,” said Dr. Vicente Vérez, the lead developer of the vaccines.
Early trials in children have shown only routine side effects and “a high degree of safety, which is what’s most important,” said Dr. José Moya, the Pan American Health Organization representative in Cuba.
Schools in Cuba have been closed through most of the pandemic, and the high cost of internet access has made online learning impossible for most children. Officials and frustrated parents are keen to get children back to school, but the reopening of classrooms has been postponed repeatedly.
So far, 56 percent of Cuba’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 37 percent are fully vaccinated. The country’s health ministry aims to vaccinate more than 90 percent of the population by December.
The pandemic has pushed Cuba’s vaunted health system to the breaking point. A shortage of medicines, medical oxygen and coronavirus tests have increased social tensions, prompting anti-government protests in July. Mexico shipped supplies of oxygen to Cuba last month, and activists in the United States sent two million syringes.
U.S. economic sanctions imposed during the Trump administration have slowed vaccination efforts by making it more complicated and expensive to import materials. Production of Soberana 2 was halted for weeks in the spring when supplies of a vital component dwindled, Dr. Vérez said.