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How did Cuba’s COVID-19 candidate vaccine come to be named Soberana?

Vacuna SoberanaA name identifies, makes unique, and enamors… It is a calling card and can convey confidence and pride, which is exactly what occurred this month of August, when the people of Cuba heard the long-awaited news that our scientists had come up with an idea, an idea they turned into a vial of vaccine in just three months’ time, as one researcher said.

Soberana (Sovereign) was the name given the candidate vaccine that, August 24, began its first clinical trials to demonstrate effectiveness against the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, an illness that has taken thousands of lives and cast the world into a deep economic crisis affecting, above all, those who have historically been the world’s most vulnerable.


According to Naturaleza Secreta, that has carefully documented details of the propagation of COVID-19 in Cuba and the battle against it, the name Soberana appeared for the first time, written by hand, at the bottom of a piece of paper along with the information needed for clinical trials of the first candidate vaccine against the virus.

On this same sheet, other possible names had been noted as well, none of which appeared to work, although a designation had to be chosen, as an unavoidable requirement to register the clinical trials, thus obliging experts at the Finlay Vaccine Institute, the Molecular Biology Institute and the University of Havana – responsible for the bulk of the research process that produced the vaccine – to make up their minds.

It was Dr. Meiby de la Caridad Rodríguez González, director of research at the Finlay who had the task of filling out the forms for the registration, who proposed calling the clinical trials project for the Cuban candidate vaccine Soberana 01.

She was at home, working late along with the rest of the team, hoping to have everything ready by August 13, to honor, on the anniversary of his birth, the man who inspired Cuba’s scientific development and especially the biotechnology sector: Fidel.

Upon hearing the proposal, members of the team who developed the vaccine, led by the institute’s director, Vicente Vérez Bencomo, immediately looked at each other and nodded. Soberana was accepted without discussion, without hesitation, with the “01” designation for the project as the first clinical trial of a candidate vaccine, according to Naturaleza Secreta.

The scientists have since said that underlying the selection of the name was the comment made by President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, this past May 19, on the necessity of developing a Cuban vaccine for COVID-19, regardless of what other countries might do, to give us sovereignty.

Referring to a possible Cuban candidate vaccine, the President said at that time, “The development of a vaccine would complete the feat we have accomplished.” He emphasized that adding a vaccine to the achievements of Cuban science, as soon as possible, would be “an important contribution from all points of view.”

The rest is history, Naturaleza Secreta notes in its article. The news that Cuba has its own vaccine entering clinical trials has gone viral on the Internet and the country’s citizens have named it, on their own… sovereignly.

“It was the people who really selected the name Soberana, because of the pride it gives us, and this will be the commercial name of the vaccine used in the country,” stated Vicente Vérez, this past August 20, on the Cuban television program, Mesa Redonda.

This name is now that of the vaccine, not only of the clinical trials project. Nor will it be the name of the second candidate vaccine, already in the works,

Naturaleza Secreta concludes, reporting how difficult it was to get this story, since, “Among the team members who created the Cuban vaccine against COVID-19, no one wants to take any individual credit,” insisting that this project, with all its merits and beautiful, universally accepted name, is a collective work.

(Source: Granma)

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