Cuba and China officially announced on June 2 that they had filed a joint patent for a Pan-Corona vaccine. The new vaccine, a collaboration between the biotech sectors of both countries, is the ffirst patent for a single effective vaccine against the many variants of COVID-19.
The news of the jointly developed vaccine is particularly exciting because of the cooperative approach of the two countries in a highly competitive, secret and totally profit-oriented field in Western capitalist countries.
Breakthrough in protection against emerging viruses
The Pan-Corona vaccine has been advertised as being effective against current variants of COVID-19 and therefore useful in the current pandemic.
But its strength is that it could also be effective against the appearance of new pathogens belonging to this family of viruses, noted Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of the public company BioCubaFarma Business Group. (telesurenglish.net, June 3)
The Pan-Corona project is based in a joint biotechnology research and development center, operating since 2019 in the city of Yongzhou, in the province of Hunan, and led by experts from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB). Dr. Gerardo Guillén Nieto, director of biomedical research at the center, explained the The project was born at the request of the Chinese and received the approval of the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. The equipment and laboratories at the Yongzhou center were designed by Cuban scientific personnel. (Radio Havana Cuba, June 3)
Both countries have focused on coronaviruses because of the global pandemic and because it is the family of viruses most likely to jump from animals to humans. This phenomenon, called zoonosis, was at the origin of previous epidemics such as the SARS epidemic of 2002 and the MERS infection of 2012, two serious respiratory diseases.
Capitalist research competes for profit
The cooperative approach used by Cuba and China is debated as a need for research by those who practice Western medicine.
But the capitalist pharmaceutical research industry is solely geared towards developing vaccines and drugs for the highest immediate rate of profit and the greatest number of sales. A vaccine with a series of boosters for each distinct strain of the current coronavirus – then the additional sale of entirely new vaccines for each emerging infection – means billions of dollars in sales and profits for the pharmaceutical industry.
Cooperation for short- or long-term solutions threatens the future of this for-profit industry.
Pharmaceutical companies in the United States, the European Union and Japan – the main capitalist economies – are very willing to accept government funding to develop vaccines. However, control of the patents and profits resulting from this research is still privately expropriated by the shareholders of the company.
Once the vaccines are developed with government funding, the governments that supported the research have to buy the products back from the companies – at high prices. Market control and private ownership of companies are the main concerns.
Peoples Vaccine Alliance estimated in 2021 that the companies behind three of the most successful COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna — were making combined profits of $65,000 per minute, $1,000 per second. These companies sold the majority of their doses to wealthy countries, leaving behind low-income countries with unvaccinated populations, seriously ill people and growing death tolls. Pfizer and BioNTech delivered less than 1% of their total vaccine supply to low-income countries, while Moderna delivered only 0.2%. (tinyurl.com/29w8pdda)
Cooperation creates solutions
Economies based on social planning and public ownership of large industries have the ability to develop solutions through strategies that private industries cannot. Socialist countries have the ability to seek common solutions to global challenges through cooperation and solidarity.
China has provided more than 2 billion doses of vaccines and a range of other supplies and assistance to more than 150 countries, regions and international organizations during the pandemic.
Cuba – despite the US blockade, its small size of 11 million people and its limited resources – has continued its highly developed medical research and has sent more than 40 medical teams to more than 30 countries to fight against COVID-19. Cuban and Chinese medical teams have maintained coordination in many developing countries and jointly contributed to the fight against COVID-19.
The American mainstream media have sought to discredit and undermine this solidarity and to discredit the extensive medical care generously provided by these two socialist-oriented countries. But the capitalist United States cannot match their achievements. Instead, he can only impose sanctions in a desperate effort to halt their steady progress.
The world needs much more cooperation and joint efforts to overcome the immediate pandemic and the environmental crisis and health issues of the future. More and more countries hobbled by US economic sanctions are seeing that cooperation is the way to survive.
Decades of cooperation
The decades of cooperation between Cuba and China are summarized in a report written jointly by Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernández, from the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in the People’s Republic of China, and Huiyao Wang and Dr. Lu Miao, from the Center for China. and Globalization (CCG) in Beijing. (PDF available at doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-8086-1_20)
“Cuba and China, a paradigmatic partnership in a changing global context” describes their potential to strengthen cooperation in public health, promote health services and develop the production and trade of medicines. The report explains that mutual solidarity and support can make the common fight against COVID-19 a new symbol of friendship and an example of bilateral and global cooperation:
“The high-level bilateral political relationship and the unshakable friendship between the two communist parties, governments and peoples allow us to continue to strengthen a strategic alliance and a privileged relationship. As socialist countries . . . Cuba and China have unlimited potential, which both sides must harness for the good of our people and humanity.
As the report summarizes, the connection between the two revolutions for socialism dates back to September 2, 1960, when revolutionary Cuba severed relations with Taiwan and recognized the People’s Republic of China.
In November 1960, an official government economic delegation led by revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara visited China, where he was received by Chairman Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders. The governments of the two countries signed their first economic and technological cooperation agreement more than 60 years ago.
Today, mAll Chinese companies are involved in priority projects in Cuba, and many of these projects are related to the construction and modernization of infrastructure, telecommunications, renewable energy and the tourism sector.
The Joint Cuba-China Biotechnology Cooperation Group reflects this bilateral cooperation in the field of biotechnology and biopharmaceutical sector. This has reached unprecedented levels, with both countries determined to continue expanding for the benefit of both peoples.
BioCubaFarma promotes cooperation and business with Chinese companies and institutions in the field of biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. The relationship is advancing product development to gain faster registration approvals for its products in China. BCF works with Chinese local governments in four cities: Chengdu, Yongzhou, Shanghai and Changchun, as well as with universities and institutes to foster innovation by setting up joint research and development centers and laboratories.
Three Chinese-Cuban companies are making important contributions to human health and agriculture: Biotech Pharmaceutical in Beijing, Changchun Heber Biological Technology in Jilin Province, and Shandong Lukang Heber in Shandong Province. These are developing innovative treatments for high incidence diseases such as cancer, diabetes and hepatitis and have so far transferred a total of 10 technologies to China.
Cooperation for the future of humanity
Practical cooperation between Cuba and China has extended to the fields of agriculture, biotechnology, biomedicine, neuroscience and nanoscience. It includes climate change, natural resources and the environment, science and technology parks and young talent development programs.
Capitalism’s drive to maximize profits every quarter means that the system has no structure capable of comprehensive long-term planning. The economic system itself requires ruthless competition. Whatever the necessity, cooperation is impossible.
The growing scientific cooperation between China and Cuba represents a hopeful future for mankind. Global problems can be solved. What is needed is economic planning, cooperation and the sharing of scientific and technological knowledge.
Photo credit: Eduardo Martínez Díaz