Fourteen months after the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Cuba, the pandemic, multiplied into variants like the many heads of a hydra, is devastating the defenseless population of the island with a vengeance. If we believe the official statistics of the Cuban State ─a chronic liar─ the figure of 150,000 infections was reached this Sunday, and counting.
Summarizing the evolution of the COVID pandemic in May, the Ministry of Public Health’s director of Epidemiology, Dr. Francisco Durán, reported an average of one thousand cases of contagions and 10 deaths per day last month, which makes it the country’s highest incidence of the disease in one month.
Ordinary Cubans and the independent press believe that the number of the infected and the dead must be higher though. Antonio Fonseca, a resident in the marginal Havana neighborhood of Romerillo, told journalist Frank Correa that he saw a whole family of four die in the same week, but they were never mentioned in the official report of deaths from Covid-19. It is well known that, seeking to scale down the statistics, Coronavirus is often not recorded as a cause of death on the death certificates.
June might be even worse: Raúl Ginovart, dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computing at the University of Havana, predicted a situation “similar or worse than that of the previous month”, with “a very high plateau of daily confirmed cases.” The saddest thing is that contagion numbers have skyrocketed among minors, including infants, with 17,000 in the most recent wave, compared to 800 during the first two.
The government blames the population for not taking seriously the preventive measures, but it is them who are to blame for this aggravation as well as all those which are to come, for gambling in a petty way to develop a native vaccine so that they can profit from it, and brag about it as another “achievement of socialism.”
That is why they did not want to participate in the COVAX vaccine-sharing mechanism of the World Health Organization. In COVAX they could have acquired immunizers of proven efficacy for the entire population of the island, by spending just a tiny fraction (about $ 40 million) of what they collect annually by looting the salaries of their medical collaborators abroad ($ 6,400 million in 2018).
The United States alone has donated $ 2 billion in proven vaccines to COVAX. But Cubans, due to the political whim of their government, will depend on some premature “vaccine candidates” whose massive application is considered “risky” by no less than the experts of the Pan American Health Organization ─ always so complacent with the Cuban government. Havana did not even agree to negotiate the shipment of Russian or Chinese vaccines to the island, something that even its Venezuelan colony did.
Official propaganda boasts that Cuba “has been the first country in Latin America to use a domestic- produced dose against the coronavirus,” but it is also the first country on the continent in which the population is given a vaccine that does not meet the basic PAHO requirements: “use it when the three phases of clinical trials have been completed and it is approved by an international agency”.
For the pandemic in Cuba to begin to subside, at least 80% of the population would have to be immunized, either through vaccination or by having survived the disease. But the way things are, this storm -promises to continue beyond year’s end ─including many more deaths.
As 400 infants fell ill in just 48 hours in May, the head of MINSAP’s National Pediatrics Commission, Dr. Lissette López, admitted, in a state of shock, on national television: “When you analyze this, you tell to yourself: ‘No, it can’t be true.’
It shouldn’t be, doctor, but it is. And the fault lies with a selfish government.
By the way, COVID has not respected even world leaders: it was survived by Presidents Trump, of the United States, Macron, of France, and Bolsonaro, of Brazil, as well as by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But no Cuban leader has been reported with COVID. Could it be that they did rush to get vaccinated, but not with Abdala or Soberana, but with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna…?
Someday we will find out, but by then the deaths of ordinary citizens will have soared. For political ─and money-making─ reasons the revolution “of the humble, by the humble and for the humble” neglected the protection of their health amid the worst global pandemic since 1918.