The clinical and epidemiological priorities and laboratory observation of pneumonia, in addition to advances in the Cuban preventative vaccine project were discussed during the Eighth Microbiology and Parasitological Congress which concludes October 16 in Havana.
Pneumococcus is the main cause of bacterial infections in infants
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During the symposium dedicated to the subject, experts stated that Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a disease responsible for highly lethal illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis; and is the main cause of bacterial infections in infants globally – a problem which effects Cuba.
Dr. Vicente Verez Bencomo, director of the Bimolecular Chemistry Center stated to Granma that Cuba has been working for many years on developing a preventative vaccine against the most important serotypes in the world and the country. “From these studies we have been able to identify seven of the more than a dozen which cause infections. The components contained in our vaccine, have already been developed and have completed all the laboratory phases.”
According to the specialist, clinical studies began on breastfeeding infants and adults in 2012. “We completed phase one of the pediatric population and we are currently in the second and third stages, working with more than 1,000 children. In regards to breastfeeding infants, we are in phase one, working with two, four and six month old babies, and should have the vaccine registered – to then be made available for use – by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.
“We hope to produce the necessary doses for the country and carry out a massive immunization campaign for children aged one to five years old, which would enable us to prevent the illness. Meanwhile, studies of breastfeeding infants and adults will continue,” stated Dr. Verez Bencomo.
In this context, he highlighted the importance of the epidemiological surveillance network on pneumonia, which continues alongside the vaccine project, and involves various Cuban scientific institutions.