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26 Democrats call on Biden to expand vaccine cooperation with Cuba

Washington, Jun 16 (Prensa Latina) A group of House Democrats is currently urging US President Joe Biden´s administration to further soften sanctions against Cuba to aid distribution of Cuba´s home-grown Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.

In a letter led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the US lawmakers heaped praise on Joe Biden´s loosening of travel and family remittance restrictions to Cuba, while asking for two-way cooperation on public health.

“As an initial step, we ask that you to review US policy towards Cuba in order to facilitate greater global vaccine equity, with a particular focus on guaranteeing that US sanctions do not impede present or future efforts by Cuba to share Covid-19 vaccines and related technology and medical support with low-income nations around the world,” they wrote.

The lawmakers said the Cuban vaccines, produced at reduced cost with limited infrastructure, could assist the Joe Biden administration’s goal to distribute cheap and effective vaccines worldwide.

However, “US sanctions on Cuba directly impede these goals, not only by harming the country’s ability to vaccinate its own population but also by placing obstacles in the way of Cuba’s ability to produce and distribute its vaccines to other nations that continue to face shortages,” wrote the Democrats.

The Democrats called on Biden to target specific policies that make medical cooperation difficult, including removing Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, “which restricts and intimidates financial institutions from allowing transactions related to medical equipment,” and adding Cuban vaccines to the list of vaccines recognized by the U.S.

In the letter, the lawmakers also refer to the validation process of Cuban vaccines before the World Health Organization (WHO).

On May 25, the Cuban Public Health Minister, José Ángel Portal; and the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus held a meeting in Geneva in the context of the 75th WHO Assembly.

Dr. Ghebreyesus recognized and congratulated Cuba’s response to Covid-19 and its international cooperation to other countries.

In spite of attempts to discredit and hinder its medical cooperation, Cuba sent health personnel to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in 42 nations, with 58 specialized medical brigades belonging to the Henry Reeve contingent, whose members have been added to the over 28,000 Cuban health professionals serving in 59 nations.

Cuba, despite its economic situation (worsened by the tightening of the US blockade for over 60 years), has historically taken a step forward in public health policy, The Hill newspaper reported.

Cuba has shown an over 90% immunization rate against Covid-19, despite restrictions on importing precursors and equipment that allow it to develop its own vaccination program, the Hill highlighted.


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