On Monday, multiple mainstream media outlets were invited by the communist nation to the capital of Havana to witness a carefully choreographed portion of the mass vaccination.
"During a single day at a policlinico [general hospital] in Havana, where CNN and other media were invited to film the vaccinations, more than 230 children ages three to five were vaccinated," said the report.
Cuba is giving its homegrown vaccines – known as Soberana 02 and Abdala – to its citizens, including children and toddlers. Health officials claim these vaccines are safe to give to the very young.
"Our country would not put [infants] even at minimal risk if the vaccines were not proven safe and highly effective when put into children," claimed Aurolis Otano, director of the Vedado Polyclinic University in Havana.
The polyclinic expects to vaccinate around 300 children between the ages of two and five per day.
Otano attempted to justify the communist nation's mass vaccination campaign against children by claiming that the post-vaccine delta variant of the coronavirus caused a surge in COVID-19 infections among the country's youngest populations. This forced the Cuban scientific community to "take the vaccine to clinical trial," after which it was approved for use in children.
The communist nation's main health regulator, the Center for State Control of Medicines and Medical Devices (CECMED), announced in early September the expansion of the country's mass vaccination campaign to include children between the ages of two and 17. (Related: Cuba first country in the world to administer COVID-19 vaccines to toddlers.)
"We have children dying, getting severe disease," claimed Dr. Vicente Verez Bencomo, director of the Finlay Institute, the country's main vaccine research institute. The Finlay Institute is also the main body responsible for developing Soberana 02 and Abdala.
"We are vaccinating children so we are moving closer to the point there is community immunity established," he added.
According to Bencomo, around 117,500 minors have been diagnosed with COVID-19, of whom 7,660 were breastfeeding infants. The communist government has refused to say how many children in Cuba have died due to the coronavirus. The health ministry only began reporting the deaths of children and infants in August.
The approval of the vaccines for children is based on data provided by the Finlay Institute of a clinical trial that only involved a paltry 350 children and teenagers between the ages of three and 18. This trial only reached up to Phase 2.
More importantly, the summary of the trial results did not say how effective the Cuban COVID-19 vaccines are against infections, hospitalizations and deaths in children. Scientists from the Finlay Institute are instead relying on efficacy data from a larger clinical trial involving only adults, which supposedly show that the Soberana 02 vaccine is 91.2 percent effective at protecting against symptomatic COVID-19.
Despite the incomplete clinical trials and the lack of data, the Cuban government still approved the vaccines for children. Bencomo tried to argue that what little data the health ministry had proved that the vaccines are safe for children.
It should be noted that not even the World Health Organization has approved the Cuban COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), even refused to comment on the use of the Cuban COVID-19 vaccines on toddlers because PAHO has not received the data that the Finlay Institute presented to the Cuban government.
Cuba is not the only country in the world to begin vaccinating young children.
In the United States and most of Europe, children 12 years and older can receive COVID-19 vaccines. In Chile, children six and older can receive the vaccines. In China, health authorities allow giving the Chinese-made Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines to children between the ages of three and 17.
Back in the U.S., Pfizer recently released more data supposedly proving that its COVID-19 vaccine works for children between the ages of five and 11.
By the time the U.S. and many other countries around the world are expected to begin vaccinating children as young as two, Cuba might already be done with its mass vaccination campaign. Authorities in the communist nation said it plans to vaccinate as much as 90 percent of the population, including children, by mid-November.
This deadline is also when the country is expected to reopen its borders to tourists and other visitors and when schools will resume in-person instruction.
Learn more about the mass vaccination campaigns in Cuba and other parts of the world at Vaccines.news.