Blog: Alexandra Swaka on CimaVax – Separating humanity from politics for a healthy human race

CimaVax - Separating Humanity From Politics For A Healthy Human Race

The first amendment of the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The intention of this clause was to limit the power of the Federal Government in regards to religion, therefore ensuring the freedom of such for the American people. Since 1787, this has reassured the American people that politics shall refrain from interfering with their personal and cultural beliefs, ensuring freedom of diversity. Most importantly however, the first amendment corroborates that personal beliefs of those in governmental power will not exude into the law-making of the entire country.


But what about at the international level? With recent headlines on Cuba’s ground-breaking lung cancer vaccine, CimaVax, which has been extant for about 25 years, and of which has been useless to the United States until very recently due to their 55-year trade embargo with Cuba, you have to ask, shouldn’t a worldwide mandate be implemented for the separation of humanity and politics? While American politicians are busy being reticent on the subject, Cuba has been making prolific advancements in medicine and pharmacology. Their biotech industry alone holds about 1,200 international patents; they export drugs and medical devices to over 50 countries worldwide, and have created their own vaccines for meningitis B and hepatitis B. In Cuba, a global dominator in the cigar industry, lung cancer is the fourth-leading cause of death. According to the CDC, more people die from lung cancer in the United States than any other type of cancer, where in just 2012 alone, it claimed the lives of 157,423 people. In Europe, it is the result of 353,000 deaths, also making it the number one cancer killer in the continent.


The advancements made by medical researchers at the Center for Molecular Immunology in Havana look promising to help reduce these astounding figures. CimaVax is a vaccine given to patients who have already been diagnosed with lung cancer, giving hope to the otherwise terminally ill. It works by attacking a hormone called the epidermal growth factor (EGF) that the cancer needs to survive. The body’s immune response is stimulated and releases antibodies that bind with the EGF, stopping it from attaching itself to the cancer cells and therefore keeping lung tumors from growing and metastasizing. This results in late-stage growth becoming a chronic, but manageable disease. In Cuba, this treatment costs only 1 dollar per dose (0.70 GBP) and is currently available to the public.


The United States, the world’s college quarterback in conducting, marketing, and funding medical research and technologically, is an indispensable game-player in the pharmaceutical industry. With historic efforts to normalize the relationship between the two countries, easing trade restrictions are showing to be promising for advancing medical research. CimaVax is currently under inspection by the FDA, and the entire research process including clinical trials is expected to take about 5 years, the results of which other countries are dependent upon to make CimaVax available to their respective markets.


Perhaps America overcoming its tumultuous relationship with Cuba will set precedent for other international struggles, whereby establishing a separation between humanity and politics will be embraced for the advancement and prosperity of everyone. With healthy collaborations between nations, the accomplishments that would be achieved are endless.


Alexandra Swaka

13 April 2016

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