Cuba on Thursday started phase 3 clinical trials of its Soberana 02 COVID-19 vaccine, Vicente Verez, director general of Cuba's Finlay Institute of Vaccines, told a press conference.
"We are entering a crucial phase to demonstrate the efficacy of the vaccine," he said. "Results from preclinical studies are public and being submitted to important scientific magazines."
After being approved by the Center for State Control of Drugs and Medical Devices on Wednesday, the domestically produced vaccine candidate is due to begin the inoculation of volunteers later in March.
The study plans to enroll more than 44,000 participants aged 19-80 from Havana, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic on the island.
Meanwhile, some 50 mass vaccination centers will be set up in the country's capital, as large-scale production of Soberana 02 is underway at Cuba's National Center for Biopreparations.
Cuba expects to immunize its entire population in 2021 as it prepares to deliver the first million doses of Soberana 02 by April.
On Thursday, the Caribbean nation registered three more COVID-19 related deaths and 807 new confirmed cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the national counts to 336 and 53,308 respectively.