Cuba started vaccinating children as young as two years old against covid-19 this week, becoming the first country in the world to inoculate toddlers. At least 12 young kids have died from covid-19 in Cuba this year, while there were no infant deaths from the disease in that country during 2020, according to the Miami Herald.
Cuba developed its own covid-19 vaccine, a two-shot regimen known as Soberana 2 that has an efficacy of 91.2% after a booster called Soberana Plus, according to studies in the country which haven’t yet been peer-reviewed. Cuba developed its own vaccine, a point of pride for Cubans, due to harsh sanctions still imposed by the U.S., an antiquated holdover from the first Cold War.
Cuba, which is averaging roughly 8,000 new covid-19 cases every day, reported 3,727 new covid-19 cases in children on Monday and Tuesday alone, according to the Miami Herald, including 236 infants and 16 newborns.
Getting children vaccinated will be vital to stopping the global pandemic, largely because kids now make up an increasingly large share of the cases. There were at least 243,000 cases of covid-19 in children from Sept 2. to Sept. 9 in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, representing roughly 29% of all cases in the country. Compared to the percentage of cases in children since the start of the pandemic last year, 15%, the virus is clearly making its way through unvaccinated children at an alarming speed.
“After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially, with nearly 500,000 cases in the past 2 weeks,” the AAP said, according to the University of Minnesota’s Center For Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
The youngest people able to get vaccinated in most countries is between 12-16 years old, with the U.S. having authorized the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine for 12-year-olds back in May. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still only authorized for those 18 and up in the U.S.
Major vaccine makers in the U.S. have yet to submit applications for the use of their jabs on children but that’s expected this fall or winter. But American infants won’t be able to get vaccinated for covid-19 anytime soon. Children as young as five are the next generational batch that could get approval for covid-19 vaccination by the FDA.
“If you look at the studies that we at the (National Institutes of Health) are doing in collaboration with the pharmaceutical companies, there will be enough data to apply for an emergency use authorization both by Pfizer, a little bit later by Moderna,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday.
“I believe both of them, with Pfizer first,will very likely be able to have a situation where we’ll be able to vaccinate children. If the FDA judges the data sufficient enough, we could do it by the fall,” Fauci said.
The U.S. reported 170,109 new covid-19 cases on Wednesday and 2,584 new deaths from the disease.