What can we learn from Cuba’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Updated: Nov 15, 2022
Have you heard about the five covid-19 vaccines developed in Cuba? Have you heard that Cuba has one of the highest vaccination rates in the Western hemisphere?
It is hard to hear of Cuban successes over the incessant anti-socialist racket made by mainstream Western media. However, the Cuban people deserve recognition for the way they have reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic, in part because it places them in precedence over all Western countries.
But also, because Cuba has achieved all of this whilst battling an equally egregious aggressor: the United States.
For six decades, Cuba has endured blockades by the United States which have intended to suffocate the Cuban economy. In reverence of the Monroe Doctrine, the United States is determined to neo-colonise Cuba by forcing the Cuban economy to capitulate to neoliberal economic policies. One of the most devastating consequences of this blockade is the inability of Cuban doctors to access vital technology and equipment to treat their patients. This includes the prohibition of crucial covid vaccinations and ventilatory equipment being exported from the United States to Cuba. Despite this, in 2020 amid the height of the pandemic, Cuban healthcare ranked higher than the United States and Cuba has since become the smallest country in the world to successfully develop its own Covid vaccinations.
Human flourishing, not corporate profits, is the fulcrum of Cuba’s biotech sector. In fact, it is stipulated in the Cuban constitution that healthcare is a human right and that all Cuban nationals have the right to receive free healthcare. Each Cuban citizen knows – and is regularly visited by - their neighbourhood primary care physician.
Unlike the vaccines produced by Big Pharma, Cuban vaccine technology is accessible for low resource settings. The vaccines are easy to mass produce and are stable at temperatures 2-8 degrees celsuius, so do not require expensive specialist refrigeration equipment. This makes them invaluable to countries unable to afford the high prices demanded by major international pharmaceutical companies. Incongruent with the Western trend of vaccine hoarding, Cuba has extended offers to transfer technology and local production of vaccines to fifteen countries that also endure oppression by the United States.
Such acts of solidarity by Cuba have not unique to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Henry Reeve foundation was established by Fidel Castro in 2005 to provide over-sea medical assistance to countries hit by natural disasters and epidemics. Since then, the Brigade has provided support following humanitarian crises including the 2005 hurricane in Guatemala; 2008 earthquake in China; 2017 floods of Sierra Leone; and 2019 hurricane of Mozambique. Assistance has never been denied even if they are not ideologically aligned with Cuba. Following the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina in 2005, Cuba offered to send medical assistance to the United States (an offer the US declined).
With absolute conviction, Cuba is refusing to succumb to US bully tactics. Instead, Cuba has become a beacon of kindness and friendship amongst other countries facing similar US subordination. In July this year, the Cuban people took to the streets to urge for an end to the US blockade, to which President Diaz-Canel of Cuba said, ‘Cuba is love, peace, and solidarity’.
To see Cuban moral philosophy in action, you need only examine their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. In doing-so, it is difficult to refute Diaz-Canel’s statement.
Cuba is love, peace, and solidarity.