The Will to Boost Science for Healthcare
For decades, hundreds of foreign companies and prominent figures worldwide have been taking notice of the “implausible” reality of a small, underdeveloped island state in the Caribbean, which owns a pretty solid biotechnological industry. But big questions have been raised in the media, like never before, after the Covid-19 pandemic. How can a country like Cuba produce five vaccine candidates —three of which are already certified as vaccines— to the fight against Covid-19? What are the reasons behind such success against Covid-19? The answer lies behind a strong system of science and technological innovation. But it cannot come into fruition without the political will of the State, which trusted the nation to become a country filled with men and women of science, since the revolutionary victory back in January 1959. SCIENCE TO HELP PEOPLE The fact is that Cuba is today leading third-world countries in terms of biotechnological development. This sector reached its peak in the 1980s, when the nation had a critical number of well-trained experts, most of them trained under the educational reform promoted by the Revolution. Huge investments were devoted to build and develop research institutions that later constituted what is known today as the Scientific Pole, embryo of the current business group BioCubaFarma, which groups over 30 science centers and companies. The social impact of homegrown biotechnological products can be found actually at any areas of health care: from monoclonal antibodies against cancer, the different preventive and therapeutic vaccines obtained like CIMAvax-EGF — first therapeutic vaccine registered against lung cancer—; technologies for diagnosis; drugs to fight viral diseases, organ transplant rejection, chronic non-communicable diseases and myocardial infarction; viral therapies against HIV/AIDS, to the diabetic foot ulcers, condition against which the Cuban science developed the one-and-only Heberprot P, among other milestones. The Pan American Health Organization has acknowledged that Cuba has become a world leader in the South-South transfer of technologies. Since 1989, nine Cuban discoveries have been awarded with the WIPO Gold Medals. Meanwhile, four WIPO trophies have been presented to innovative Cuban centers for the successful management of the intellectual property.