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Cuba says US ban hinders vaccine production amid joint Iran plan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
View of a closed street due to COVID-19 cases in the Cuban capital, Havana, on May 5, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The Cuban foreign minister says the US blockade against his country has hindered the development and production of domestically-manufactured vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic.

Bruno Rodriguez made the comments in a post on his Twitter page on Friday, adding that the commercial and financial persecution by the US administration against Cuban companies, counterparts and third parties was delaying the purchase of supplies needed to rein in the deadly pathogen.

The Business Group of the Cuban Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industries also recently condemned the effects of Washington's policy toward Havana that prevented the purchase of resources to guarantee medicines for the national health system.

The group mentioned, among other obstacles, the increase in the cost of materials essential for the development of vaccine and said, “The usual suppliers refused to supply them for fear of the impact of the brutal blockade policy on their companies.”

Moreover, Cuba’s Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca reiterated on Friday his rejection of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Caribbean nation that has been extended even in Covid-19 times.

Back in January, Iran and Cuba signed an agreement to cooperate in the coronavirus vaccine project with the use of a technology that will be transferred to Iran by the Cuban government.

The US sanctions have hampered both country’s access to medical equipment and medicines and complicated the process of importing vaccines from abroad, making them two of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuba has five Covid-19 vaccine candidates, with two of them -- Soberana and Abdala -- being in Phase 3 of clinical trials. Should the effectiveness of the vaccines be proven, Cuba will have the first Covid-19 vaccines conceived and produced in the South American region.

Cuba is facing multiple challenges exacerbated by US-led sanctions as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuba’s economy shrank 11 percent last year due to the deadly viral pathogen and tightened US sanctions which have caused a decline in aid from its allies in Latin America, namely Venezuela.

The US returned Havana to its so-called list of “state sponsors of terrorism" just nine days before Republican President Donald Trump left office.

The then US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said Cuba was being blacklisted for “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism,” and cited Cuba’s security support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

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