Cure for COVID-19? Cuba may share 'wonder drug' with Kerala

The state reported 39 fresh cases of coronavirus on Friday

(Left) Cuban doctors on the way to Italy | AP; Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan | Malayala Manorama

If all goes well, the Communist government in Cuba will send medicines to help Kerala—the last citadel of the Left parties in India—to help the state which has the highest number of COVID-19 patients in the country.

The state reported 39 fresh cases of coronavirus on Friday, taking the total number of people under treatment to 164, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. There were 176 positive cases, but 12 have been cured.

A total of 1,10,299 people are under surveillance and 616 are in isolation wards of various hospitals, he said.

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“We discussed the possibility of importing the medicine from Cuba, in the Cabinet meeting today. We will approach the Drug Controller for this,'' said Vijayan, in Thiruvananthapuram today.

A source in the health department told THE WEEK that the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, headed by Vijayan, will approach the Drug Controller General of India, seeking permission to import Cuba’s antiviral Recombinant Interferon Alpha 2B (IFNrec). Interferon is one of the medicines imported and used effectively by China to treat the coronavirus.

The Kerala government was discussing the possibility of importing the drug, for the past 3-4 days, and the Cabinet took the decision today, the source said.

“We will seek the permission of the Drug Controller General of India to import the medicine. It is mandatory to get the permission of the Drug Controller to import this,” the source said. “We hope that the reply would be positive as Interferon has been proved as an effective drug world over.”

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Cuba, earlier this week, had dispatched a group of doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

It is understood that Interferon—a protein with antiviral properties—has been in Cuba for nearly four decades.

Cuba and Kerala have joined hands in the health sector in the past, too. The Left government had sought the assistance of Cuba in training its doctors and medicinal researches.