The Cuban drug 'recombinant human Interferon Alpha 2B' which is marketed as Heberon® Alfa R, is proving itself to be an effective drug against COVID-19. So far, it has effectively cured more than 1,500 patients in China from the coronavirus. It is also one of the 30 drugs chosen by Chinese National Health Commission in combating COVID-19.

The drug has been produced in China and was first developed in 1986 by Cuban doctor Luis Herrera and team from the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB).

How it works?

Chinese and Cuban doctors arrive in Italy
Chinese and Cuban doctors arrived in Italy with 31 tons of medical supplies from China and drugs from Cuba (March 14) Twitter

The drug has a history of 40 years used in treatments for HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Herpes zoster or Shingles, Dengue and different types of cancers. Interferon Alpha 2B increases the natural production of 'interferon' in the human body, strengthening the immune system of the patient. This is the same way it helps in treating the coronavirus disease, according to Peoples Dispatch. It was also used to fight MERS-CoV epidemic three years ago.

The virus multiplies inside the cells by decreasing the levels of Interferon that is naturally produced in human cells. The drug can create conditions to limit the replication of the virus through a different metabolic way that increases the Interferons, explains Dr Herrera in an interview to teleSUR. "The world has an opportunity to understand that health is not a commercial asset but a basic right," stated the Cuban doctor Luis Herrera.

As an agreement between two socialist countries in biotech -it was developed in Cuba while produced in China at Changchun Heber Biological Technology, Jilin province.

Global requests for Cuban aid

Several Latin American, Caribbean and European countries have requested the Cuban drug and also help from professionals to fight COVID-19. Cuba sent a team of doctors and supplies of Interferon Alpha 2B to Italy, who are working alongside Chinese experts to contain the outbreak.

"We have more physicians working abroad than practically any other country in the world, not because we are exporting anything but simply because we want to participate in building a world with better health conditions and living conditions." mentioned Dr Herrera.

"We started import procedures for Interferon 2b, a Cuban medicine used successfully in China and Spain. This will be for high-risk infected people," Mayor of Chile's Recoleta, Mr Daniel Jadue, said on Twitter on March 16.

Part of health mission

After the revolution led by Fidel Castro, Cuba founded a humanitarian medical mission 55 years ago. The country has provided almost-free healthcare services in more than 160 countries across the globe, says the report.

Herrera also mentioned that Cuba should take a part in the solidarity movement along with other nations, just "the same way other countries have had solidarity with Cuba, especially with Latin American and African countries."