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HAVANA: Cuba on Friday approved two more domestic Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use, the island nation's medication regulatory body said. The authorization came after a "rigorous evaluation process of the Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus vaccines," the body, CECMED, said in a statement.

The two Soberana vaccines are complementary. Last month, Cuba became the first Latin American country to approve a home-made vaccine when CECMED gave the go-ahead to the Abdala jab. The news comes at a time when the island nation faces particularly high infection rates.

CECMED director Olga Lidia Jacobo said the decision was made after "evaluating all the results related to the vaccines' effectiveness and efficacy."

Cuban health authorities say the Soberana immunization program is 91.2 percent effective against symptomatic cases. It involves two doses of Soberana 02 followed by a third with Soberana Plus. Abdala also requires three doses.

Cuba began administering both Soberana and Abdala in its worst affected areas in May as part of a clinical testing process. A little over three million Cubans have received all three doses, 4.3 million have had at least two and 4.8 million have had at least one.

Over the last 24 hours, Cuba recorded more than 9,700 new cases and 78 deaths from Covid-19, bringing its totals to 564,000 infections and just under 4,400 fatalities. As of August 18, the country of 11.2 million people had administered 12.3 million vaccine doses. Yet cases began soaring in July due to the arrival of the Delta variant and some provinces have even recorded shortages of oxygen to treat patients.

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