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Monday, October 31, 2005


 

Only some Cubans are welcome in the U.S.


Cuban terrorists who have killed dozens of people? Welcomed with open arms. Baseball players? Welcomed with open wallets. Scientists who are being given awards for developing a synthetic vaccine which might save millions of children? Not welcome:
"The San Jose, California Technical [sic] Museum has awarded one of its annual prizes in the health category to the team of specialists who worked on obtaining the Cuban vaccine against Haemophilus infuenzae Type B, the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and other infections in under-fives.

"The award ceremony is scheduled for November 9 at the museum itself, but Dr. Vicente Verez Bencomo, the principal author of this important achievement, cannot attend it because the U.S. government has refused him a visa, arguing that his presence would be prejudicial to that country’s interests."
Dr. Verez Bencomo, in my opinion, puts his finger on the real reason:
"[Dr. Verez Bencomo] said that it could be an attempt to minimize the impact of the vaccine in the context of U.S. public opinion."
In other words, the U.S. "interest" lies in not allowing Americans to learn the truth about Cuba.

The Tech Museum (Granma can be forgiven for thinking that "Tech" is short for "Technical," but in this case, it isn't short for anything) is the prestigious science museum in San Jose, CA. Their awards program is "an international Awards program that honors innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity" (as opposed to, say, applying technology to building more effective earth-penetrating nuclear weapons). I'm not a doctor, but the work Dr. Verez Bencomo is being honored for sounds (pdf link) incredibly important:

"Dr. Verez-Bencomo led a project to develop a synthetic polysaccharide conjugate vaccine against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), a bacteria that can cause meningitis and pneumonia. Hib infections are estimated to be responsible for 200,000-700,000 childhood deaths annually around the world. Highly effective Hib vaccines made from purified bacterial polysaccharides have been available and widely used for several years in the U.S. and Europe. These vaccines are expensive, limiting their incorporation into vaccination programs in developing nations. Dr. Verez-Bencomo's group developed a completely synthetic version of the Hib antigen that is equally effective immunologically, can be more readily manufactured at lower cost, and may be safer to use than current commercial Hib vaccines. Over 1 million doses of the vaccine have been safely delivered into Cuban children. This work may be a template for future synthetic vaccine production."


Why stop here? There's more...

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