Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro claimed in a national broadcast Wednesday that Cuba has the cure for Chinese coronavirus, which the island nation revealed had arrived there on Thursday.
While there is no confirmed cure for the virus and no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Venezuela, Maduro said, “It has not come here … but at any moment it could arrive.”
“Cuba is at the head, at the vanguard — Cuba, always Cuba, is at the vanguard, with interferon, a medicine created with Cuban medical technology,” Maduro said at an event commemorating the National Day of the Doctors and Doctors of the Homeland.
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) March 12, 2020
“It is a medicine created in Cuba that has had excellent results in its application in the coronavirus crisis in China,” Maduro continued.
“Cuban interferon is in Venezuela to help patients who might have this issue in the future,” Maduro added. “We need to prepare the country … and also have sufficient medicine to tend to the affected.”
Maduro also allowed Julio César García, the head of Cuban medical mission in Venezuela, to speak.
García also claimed that interferon is an “antiviral that increases the body’s defenses” and was the first “Cuban biotechnology medicine.” However, interferons first appeared in Western scientific research in 1957 and have been part of viral and cancer treatments for decades, in use since at least 1962.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) states there are three types of interferons, which include interferon-alfa, interferon-beta, and interferon-gamma. The NCI also claims interferons “may help keep cancer cells from growing and may help kill cancer cells.”
Some experts have floated using interferons to treat those ailing from the novel coronavirus discovered in Wuhan, China, in January, which has now infected tens of thousands of people worldwide and been officially designated a pandemic. Chinese scientists have reportedly experimented with giving interferons to coronavirus patients once a day, hoping that, since they do not target any particular virus, they may be a useful treatment for the novel discovery.
While Maduro, who has not been the legitimate president of Venezuela since 2019, may rely on Cuba’s failing healthcare system for support, Venezuela is suffering from one of the worst and least trustworthy healthcare systems in the world. The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation declared a “humanitarian emergency” in 2016, citing “100 percent shortage on a national level” of every drug the World Health Organization (WHO) lists as necessary to run a functional healthcare system. Shortages have incrementally worsened in the last four years. Hospitals typically fail to stock basic cleaning items and medical supplies, or even cots or robes.
In addition to his claim that Cuba has the coronavirus cure, Maduro also announced Thursday that flights from Europe and Colombia would be suspended for some time.