Abstract in English:Abstract The current pandemic has rocked the lives of human beings everywhere in ways never imagined, forcing us to question where our civilization is headed. In this article, we explore and discuss scientific evidence that helps explain recent events in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a zoonotic-origin novel virus, SARS-CoV-2, that is genetically close to two coronavirus types isolated in bats. The transmission dynamics to humans from the original and intermediary hosts remain poorly understood, but it is highly likely that the SARS-CoV-2 virus infected humans after undergoing an interspecies transfer from bats to an intermediate species, and from there to human beings. Crossing the species barrier is largely fostered by industrial-scale agricultural practices that simplify original ecosystem connections by reducing biodiversity, facilitating the emergence of new infectious diseases. The scientific community has played an exemplary role in responding to this global emergency, working to find timely, relevant solutions for governments and society as a whole. We need to take this opportunity to promote a global and open science that delves into the interrelationships of the biological, environmental, social and economic dimensions of this and other diseases while questioning current modes of production and their impact on the environment, and thus on human health worldwide.
Abstract in English:Abstract Dr Pastor Castell-Florit’s career in public health spans work at local, national and international levels. In 2016, he received PAHO’s Award for Health Administration in the Americas, for “outstanding leadership and valuable contributions to the management and administration of the Cuban National Health System.” He serves as president of Cuba’s National Council of Scientific Societies in Health, as director of the National School of Public Health, and is a member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. He has published numerous books and articles on social determinants of health and intersectoral actions to address them, and holds doctorates in science and the health sciences.
Abstract in English:Abstract Dr José Ramón Acosta-Sariego is full professor of basic and preclinical sciences at the Medical University of Havana’s Victoria de Girón Institute, where he also chairs the Scientific Research Ethics Committee. He serves as vice-chair of the Board of Directors of UNESCO’s Latin American and Caribbean Bioethics Network (REDBioética) and in 2020, UNESCO’s Director-General appointed him to its 36-member International Bioethics Committee. Dr Acosta-Sariego has been academic coordinator for the bioethics master’s degree program at the University of Havana since its inception in 2006, is president of the Neuroethics Chapter of the Cuban Neurosciences Society and is a member of the Cuban National Bioethics Committee.
Abstract in English:Abstract Dr Durán is a native of eastern Santiago de Cuba and his early medical career began in this mountainous region, where he also headed provincial prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. He went on to become rector of the Medical University of Santiago de Cuba and provincial health director. Later in Havana, Dr Durán was director of medical education and vice minister at the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP). Abroad, he served as advisor to Angola’s Minister of Health, and on his return, as deputy director of Cuba’s Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute (IPK). Dr Durán has been “battle-tested” over the years by his involvement in stemming dengue epidemics and other infectious disease outbreaks, good preparation for his current position as National Director of Epidemiology. Today, his is the voice and the face on the 11:00 AM briefing carried daily by Cuban television, reporting the latest data on the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic globally, in the Americas and in Cuba. This MEDICC Review interview took place on April 10, 2020, a month after the first three COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Cuba (March 11, 2020).
Abstract in English:Abstract This MEDICC Review roundtable brings you specialists from Havana’s Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute (IPK), who are working directly with testing, research and patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Founded in 1937 by its namesake, the Institute has gained considerable worldwide prestige. Today, it is a PAHO–WHO Collaborating Center for the Study of Dengue and Its Vector, and for the Elimination of Tuberculosis. Its main role within Cuba’s health system is as the national reference center for prevention, control, management and elimination of infectious diseases, including epidemics. Its 479 workers staff 32 departments, including laboratories, research and teaching facilities, a hospital and isolation center. The IPK's hospital treats later-stage AIDS patients, while the Institute is the national reference center for attention to all HIV-positive patients and maintains the national HIV/AIDS registry, as well as registries for other infectious diseases. The institution was responsible for training the Cuban doctors who served in West Africa during the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreaks and for those going abroad to assist in the COVID-19 response today, and its professionals offer an internationally-recognized biennial course on dengue.
Abstract in English:Abstract This MEDICC Review roundtable gathers some of Cuba’s top researchers in the fields of vaccines and biotechnology, all of whom work in institutions belonging to BioCubaFarma, the umbrella company of Cuban biotech and pharmaceutical R&D, production, distribution and export. Founded in 2012, the company is comprised of 34 enterprises with 61 lines of production and some 20,000 employees. A total of 765 of its products are registered in 53 countries and exported to another 50. Its scientists’ research has resulted in 2640 patents in Cuba and globally.
Abstract in English:Abstract Dr Armando De Negri Filho is an epidemiologist whose work has centered on development and maintenance of Brazil’s universal healthcare system. Along with his training in epidemiology, Dr De Negri has a specialty in emergency medicine and a PhD involving research focused on policy, planning, economics and health systems management. In addition to his other responsibilities, he serves as an expert on the right to development for the UN Human Rights Council. He spoke with MEDICC Review from his hometown in Porto Alegre.