HAVANA – Cuba said on Friday it has enough reserves of an antiviral drug which has been used to treat COVID-19 in China to cover the country’s demand and also that of the international community.
Eduardo Martinez, president of state group of BioCubaFarma medications, said: “We are receiving requests from a large group of countries that are asking us to make it available.
“We have the capacity to supply it without risking the quantities required for the country.”
The company manufactures the antiviral Interferon alpha 2B, which has been combined with other drugs to treat the coronavirus.
It has been produced since January at the Chinese-Cuban plant ChangHeber in the Chinese province of Jilin.
Interferon is one of the star products of Cuban biotechnology and has also been used against viral infections such as HIV, the human papilloma virus and hepatitis B and C.
BioCubaFarma said 15 countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia have requested information or supply of the drug.
Eulogio Pimentel, director of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Havana (CIGB), said Cuba has an inventory to treat all those infected in China, although no specific figures were given on the production or national reserves of Interferon.
Directors at BioCubaFarma also said that, despite a chronic shortage in Cuba down in part to a United States embargo, 22 medicines that could help to treat the coronavirus are secure.
Cuba has reported four infections, three Italian tourists and one Cuban national, with dozens of others quarantined with suspected cases.
The country was one of the last in the Americas and the Caribbean to report the presence of the infection in its territory.
Authorities have been warning of the possibility of the virus spreading there and have reinforced surveillance and control measures to fight the spread of the illness.
These measures included tests of travelers from countries with the highest risk, China, Japan, Iran, Italy, South Korea, France, Germany, Spain and the United States, who had temperature checks and their health monitored during their stay in the country.
Several international events have been suspended to try and combat the spread.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, a pandemic.
It reported COVID-19 had infected more than 140,000 people in 117 countries with more than 5,000 deaths.