Costa Rica’s Semanario Universidad reported on Friday, March 13, that Cuba produces Interferon Alpha 2B, a drug used by China to treat its coronavirus patients and which has generated buying interest in some 15 countries, according to the island’s medical specialists.
Interferon Alpha 2B is not a vaccine, but an antiviral drug that replaces human defenses.
“Interferon is a therapeutic product, it is not a vaccine,” said Eduardo Martínez, president of the state industrial group BioCubaFarma, denying social media publications that reported that there was a cure for this pandemic in the country.
He recalled that, according to the Chinese pharmaceutical association, “among the proposals (to combat coronavirus) the first product of antiviral action that is recommended is interferon”, among thirty options.
Martínez explained that in addition to Cuba, the drug is also manufactured by a joint venture in China, which made it easier to treat. “It is a medicine that we have all the capabilities to supply the national health system in Cuba and China.”
The director of the Cuban Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), Eulogio Pimentel, there are some 15 countries interested in acquiring the product in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
We have an “Interferon inventory of finished product, for cases that in a horizon of three to six months could appear in Cuba. And in process, we have equivalent inventory to treat all the infected that occurred in China,” he added.
In outbreaks of other coronaviruses and SARS, interferons were used for prevention and treatment, explained CIGB Vice President Marta Ayala.
“Interferons are molecules that the body itself produces in the face of viral attacks. It is a natural first defense of the immune system to combat the entry of the virus and inhibit it, “he explained.
But the coronavirus, instead of inducing the production of interferons, decreases it. “In some way, administering Interferon from outside could be a correct approach in the midst of the range of treatments being used,” she said.
The drug is administered through injectables, but in China it has been applied by nebulization “because it is a fast route to the lungs and it acts in the early stage of infection,” said Ayala.
Four cases of coronavirus have been reported so far on the island. The government is in the process of producing 1 million masks.
Tourism is an important engine of the Cuban economy. For the moment, the government has not foreseen the closure of its borders and has tightened entry controls.