Cuba assists Vietnam with medical team, antiviral drug for Covid-19 fight

By Hoang Thuy   August 5, 2020 | 09:45 pm PT
Cuba assists Vietnam with medical team, antiviral drug for Covid-19 fight
An ampoule containing Interferon Alfa 2b is displayed during a press conference in Havana, Cuba, March 13, 2020. Photo by Reuters/File.
Cuba has sent to Vietnam a team of medical experts and thousands of vials of an antiviral drug to assist in the fight against Covid-19.

The drug, Interferon alfa-2b, which induces the human body to produce antibodies against the novel coronavirus, were handed over at a ceremony held by the Ministry of National Defense’s department of foreign relations in Hanoi on Wednesday.

The drug could play a vital role in treating severely ill Covid-19 patients, Lianys Torres Rivera, the Cuban ambassador to Vietnam, said at the event.

It has been used to successfully treat Covid-19 cases in Cuba, with the death rate among patients so treated being only 0.9 percent as of the end of April, she said.

"Over 80 countries have expressed their desire to buy this drug from Cuba."

Interferon alfa-2b, which was created by Cuban scientists in the 1980s, has also proven effective in treating other diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and shingles, she said.

Her country’s gesture represents a desire to further enhance bilateral cooperation in medicine, which would contribute to their comprehensive partnership, she added.

The Cuban medical experts, following their mandatory quarantine upon entry, will travel to Da Nang City and Quang Nam Province, now Vietnam’s Covid-19 hotspots, to help fight the disease.

Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh said as the current ASEAN chair and a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Vietnam is fulfilling its responsibilities in sharing experiences and boosting the global cooperation in fighting Covid-19.

Last month Vietnam had donated to Cuba around three tons of medical equipment to fight Covid-19, including rapid test kits, masks and protective suits.

Vietnam has had 717 Covid-19 cases so far, 327 of them active, and nine deaths.

Cuba meanwhile has had 2,700 cases and 88 deaths.

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