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The results of Cuban science are a source of pride

Cuba cienciaDuring another encouraging meeting with the group of scientists and experts directly involved in Cuba’s efforts to control the COVID-19 epidemic, President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez noted that the results achieved in different arenas “are a clear indication of the contribution that Cuban science is making to this battle.”

He insisted that the accomplishments are evidence of the country’s capacity, to address complex situations with the support of science and innovation. The presented during the gathering, he said, “give us a great deal of encouragement, a lot of strength and show how we are taking a comprehensive, integrated approach to the management of science and innovation, because all branches of science are involved.”

At the May 28 meeting, the President highlighted the incorporation of not only medical, biotechnological and pharmaceutical sciences, but also the exact sciences, with the contribution of physicists and mathematicians, as well as the social sciences in psycho-social support and maintaining the population’s mental health.

During the meeting, in which, as usual, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz also participated, the analysis of different prognosis models was continued, which reflect the effectiveness of measures adopted by the Cuban government.

Once again, the exclusive nature of the Cuban experience in confronting the new coronavirus was confirmed, with current trends placing us on the mathematical model’s most favorable curve, reported Dr. Raúl Ginovar Díaz, dean of the University of Havana’s Mathematics and Computing department. However,” he said, “these results cannot lead to overconfidence.”

As part of the exchange, Dr. Celso Pazos Alberdi, director of the National Institute of Meteorology, provided an update on forecasts and the actual behavior of SARS-COV-2 by province, based on weather conditions.

He noted that, during the month of May, the predicted spatial pattern for viral circulation has been maintained, although at a lower level, while there is evidence of a reduction in the epidemic’s impact in the eastern region and the most western part of the country. However, he said, the risk remains high in island’s center, as well as Havana, Matanzas and Mayabeque provinces.

According to studies conducted, he confirmed that weather conditions in Cuba are favorable for circulation the virus during the month of June, mainly in Havana, Mayabeque, Matanzas and Villa Clara, and to a lesser extent in the rest of the country.

It has been demonstrated – he concluded – that the high levels of temperature and humidity reported in the months of March, April and May have not, thus far, limited the development of COVID-19, a pattern that should be maintained over the coming months.

One positive aspect of the battle against COVID-19 in Cuba has been the use of previously developed medicines adapted for use in the current context. Such is the case of Biomodulin-T, which was first administered broadly to older adults residing in long-term care institutions.

Dr. Liliam Rodríguez Rivera, director of the Center for Research on Longevity, Aging and Health (Cited), commented on the drug, recognizing the relevance of using it as part of the strategy designed in the country for preventive interventions and early treatment for the elderly.

“Since the beginning of the epidemic,” she said, “the main efforts have been directed toward protecting the vulnerable population, particularly those living in nursing homes, who generally experience deterioration of their immune systems, due to aging, and have associated chronic diseases or comorbidity.”

In attempt to gain time in efforts to control the virus on the island, Dr. Rodríguez revealed that on April 3, the administration of Biomodulin-T began in all of Havana’s nursing homes,

The project was progressively extended to all other provinces and the Isle of Youth special municipality, by the 14th.

The unquestionable success of implementing this protocol allowed our elderly population to fare much better that their peers in the rest of the world, as Dr. Rodríguez emphasized, noting that no institutionalized elderly person, treated preventively with Biomodulin-T, has fallen ill with COVID-19.

In this regard, President Díaz-Canel stressed, that the response was commendable, valuing human beings, health, ethics, and social security, stating, “It is a result that is both moving and ennobling,” he said, while commenting that the way in which Cuba acted in this context will also serve an objective for the recovery phase, referring to immunizing the population.

Also on the meeting’s agenda was the presentation of a clinical epidemiological study of Cuban children and adolescents who have been infected with the new coronavirus.

In addition, Dr. Lissette López González, head of the Ministry of Public Health’s national pediatric group, reported that, as of mid-May, 220 patients in this age range have been confirmed, of whom only 17 remained ill and were progressing satisfactorily.

She said that since the beginning of the epidemic in Cuba, children constitute 10 to 12% of the total number of patients. These figures, although above the world average, are very much related to active searches, monitoring, and testing of contacts.

Dr. López explained that, of the total number of confirmed children and adolescents, 53.4% were male and the main incidence is seen in those over 10 years of age. The most frequent source of infection has been contagion from a parent.

Thus far,” she said, “there have been no deaths, no reported cases of healthcare-associated infections, and no reports of health care personnel who provided respiratory care to these patients.”

The effectiveness of pharmacological treatment protocols followed with the pediatric population, which includes the use of interferon, was also highlighted.

She likewise noted that, to date, no case of multisystemic inflammatory syndrome has been reported in Cuba and confirmed that the entire Public Health surveillance system is actively monitoring infants to detect its presence. If a suspected case is identified, the child is to be directly admitted to intensive care, complying with all biosecurity regulations.

Results from other studies carried out in this stage of the COVID-19 battle were also presented, including a report on the mental health and psychosocial support intervention program for patients impacted by the new coronavirus.

Dr. Carmen Borrego Calzadilla, head of the Ministry of Public Health mental health department, stated that action proposals developed are focused on the objective of providing psychological support, in a different way and in different stages, for the general population and those classified as at-risk, hospitalized patients, convalescents, and heath workers.

Among important results, she cited the extension of telephone counseling services to provide 24-hour psychosocial care to the population, with more than 5,000 calls received, mainly from Havana and Villa Clara provinces, requesting psychological support and guidance related to family tension, anxiety and stress.

The culmination of the intense but fruitful day at the Palace of the Revolution was the customary afternoon meeting of the COVID-19 prevention and control task force, where the President of the Republic insisted on the importance of prioritizing rigorous enforcement of all the measures that have been adopted in the country.

Authorities in the provinces of Holguín, Matanzas and La Habana also took part in the event, reporting on the epidemiological situation in their territories. Havana continues to face the most complex circumstances, given the evolution of the outbreak at the Epoca department store, which has led to infections in other municipalities of the capital and the province of Artemisa.

Finally, Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso Grau, and the President of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation, Osvaldo Vento Montiller, reported on actions taken in their respective arenas, as indicated in the Plan for the Prevention and Control of the New Coronavirus, which has guided the fight against the epidemic in Cuba.

(Source: Granma)

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