The drug, called Interferon Alpha-2B Recombinant (IFNrec), is jointly developed by scientists from Cuba and China, where the coronavirus COVID-19 disease outbreak first emerged late last year.
Already active in China since January, the Cuban Medical Brigades began deploying to dozens of nations, providing personnel and products such as its new anti-viral drug to battle the disease that has exceeded 400,000 confirmed cases across the globe. As of Tuesday, over 100,000 people have recovered from the infection and more than 18,000 have died.
Cuba first used advanced interferon techniques to treat dengue fever in the 1980s and later found success in using it to combat HIV, human papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and other diseases. The use of Interferon Alpha-2B Recombinant “prevents aggravation and complications in patients reaching that stage that ultimately can result in death,” Cuban biotech expert Luis Herrera Martinez said, according to a recent Yale University Press Blog feature written by the University of Glasgow’s Helen Yaffe. She called the treatment a potential “wonder drug” against the new coronavirus.
Three months into the pandemic, it is still unclear which drug can successfully combat the disease. While studies are on, and different countries try various combinations to treat its patients, the WHO recently launched a multicountry clinical trial to test four drug combinations that have yielded results – n experimental antiviral drug called remdesivir, the antimalarial drug chloroquine (or the related hydroxychloroquine), a combination of two HIV drugs, and those same two HIV drugs along with the anti-inflammatory interferon beta.
Cuban Drugs has been selected along with 30 other drugs to treat COVID-19 by China’s National Health Commission. The World Health Organization will be studying interferon-beta, along with three other drugs, to determine their effectiveness against the new coronavirus.
What are the Interferons
Interferons are proteins that are part of our body’s natural defence systems, and draw their name from the word ‘interfere’’ because they interfere with viruses and prevent them from multiplying. According to WebMD, there are three types of interferons. Cells that have been infected with viruses or other germs give off interferon-alpha and interferon-beta as a warning signal to your immune system.
Currently, Cuba has mobilized its medical corps around the world to distribute a new “wonder drug” that officials there say is capable of treating the new coronavirus despite the United States’ strict sanctions that continue to pressure the communist-run island.
Before embarking abroad on what’s known officially as “collaboration missions,” 400 Cuban doctors and specialists are preparing for their missions by training at the Pedro Kouri National Institute of Tropical Medicine, according to the Cuban Foreign Ministry. The Havana-based institute has been designated a health center for treating confirmed COVID-19 cases, though there were few so far at home.
The U.S., on the other hand, is set to become the country most afflicted by the coronavirus. COVID-19 cases in New York State alone exceeded 20,000 on Tuesday, with new cases said to be doubling at a rate of every three days. The U.S. has reported 46,158 confirmed cases, 583 of whom died and 35 of whom have recovered as of Tuesday.
That same day, the Navy announced that a sailor tested positive for COVID-19 while stationed at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military base and prison facility maintained without permission on Cuban territory.
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