By MELISSA T. CASTRO
Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris), announced late Saturday, Nov. 19, that the Cuban-made Soberana vaccine has been approved for nationwide use against covid-19.
The Soberana vaccine, uses a conjugate of the receptor-binding “S” protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus recombined with a tetanus toxoid.
Mexican Undersecretary of Public Health Hugo López-Gatell had previously announced that Mexico had agreed to purchase 9 million doses of the Cuba’s other covid-19 vaccine, Abdala, but has not yet clarified how many doses of the newly approved Soberana vaccine will be purchased.
Although still unproven by international health authorities, Soberana does have some advantages over more mainstream vaccines such as Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna, as it does not need to be kept at extremely low temperatures and is therefore easier to distribute in remote areas. It also appears to have fewer side effects related to clotting disorders.
However, it also has its drawbacks, including, having to use cells derived from Chinese hamster ovaries for its synthesis, leading to prolonged production times.
Additionally, given that it’s synthesis mirrors many of the steps required to produce meningococcal vaccines, the Soberana vaccine can be less effective in those who have been immunized against meningococcus.
More importantly, in global clinical tests, the three-dose Soberana vaccine has been shown to have just a 70 percent effective rate, although Cuba has claimed that that figure is much higher.
The Soberana vaccine will join the roster of 11 covid-19 vaccine brands that are currently approved and offered in Mexico through government distribution.