Once again, California and Los Angeles are outpacing all other states and cities in the surge of COVID-19 cases. California is desperately
searching for nurses, doctors and other medical staff, perhaps from as far away as Australia, as the coronavirus surge pushes hospitals
and nurses to the breaking point. California just ordered 5,000 body bags and dozens of refrigerated trucks for cadavers. It shall get worse
without a radical change in operations and care of those infected.
Why are we looking across the globe when Cuba is successfully combatting COVID-19? Cuba’s prior experience in battling epidemics
(Ebola, H1N1, SARS, Swine Flu) and natural disasters (hurricanes, tsunamis) are beneficial for the containment of the virus.
Cuba is a world leader in preventing, containing, and treating the coronavirus pandemic. Cuba has helped fight this pandemic in thirty-nine
countries from Italy to South Africa to the Caribbean. Despite sending medical teams around the world, including in COVID-19 hot spots
such as Lombardy, Italy, not a single member of a Cuban medical team has died from COVID-19.
Cuba, a nation of 11.3 million people, has 10,500 COVID-19 infections, and 139 deaths. In sharp contrast, Los Angeles County alone, with
a population of 10 million, has 664,000 COVID-19 infections, and 9153 deaths. (12/23/20) This virus disproportionately hits hardest the
poor and working classes, Black and Brown, and Indigenous communities. People continue to needlessly suffer and die without
international medical collaboration.
Medical/biotech collaboration with Cuba is not without precedent. Four years ago, the US and Cuba signed a MOU for medical
collaboration, which paved the way for a lung cancer drug developed by the Biotech Institute in Cuba and is going through clinical trials at
the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York. Most recently, collaboration with Cuban medical professionals saved the life
of a noted Cuban-American pianist in Minnesota. On December 16, 2020, the University of Minnesota initiated a collaboration by holding a
virtual forum with leading Cuban health experts on COVID-19 treatment.
Cuban internationalist doctors of the Henry Reeve Brigade and other contingents totaling 39,000 medical personnel are assisting in more
than 80 countries. These include European as well as Asian, African, Caribbean, and Latin American nations. As Brenda Lopez,
coordinator of the LA US Hands off Committee said in a 12/21 press release announcing the LA car caravan to end the US blockade of
Cuba: “What Cuba has done and is continuing to do to save lives could help save lives here. Why not work with them, collaborate on
successful strategies, ask for assistance and thus save countless lives statewide?” she added. “It is the stark difference between a health
care for-profit healthcare system here versus one that provides free medical care for all in Cuba.”
In the last six months cities and labor councils throughout the country, including Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond, have
called for medical and scientific collaboration with Cuba to fight COVID. http://www.buildingrelationswithcubanlabor.org/2020-resolutions-
on-cuba, why not add Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Garcetti to this list
It is time for the US to recognize the need for scientific and medical collaboration if we are to eradicate or contain the pandemic.
California has been a leader in medical, social and political advances. We urge California AND Los Angeles to step up and become a leader in the battle and containment of COVID-19.
cc: Xavier Becerra, Dr. Michael Drake, President, University of California, Kamala Harris, Alex Padilla, Diane Feinstein