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October 28, 2021
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Romanian National Institute “Cantacuzino” Celebrates 100 Years

The once famous Romanian Institute “Cantacuzino” celebrates 100 years of existence. Unfortunately, it’s a sad anniversary for Cantacuzino Institute and the future offers no bright perspective.

100 years ago, on April 1 1921, Cantacuzino Institute was founded in Bucharest, based on a royal decree. The very Romanian King Ferdinand I signed the royal decree which established the institute on the same structure and principles as Pasteur Institute from Paris.

The institute, bearing the name “Cantacuzino National Research and Development Institute for Microbiology and Immunology“, was meant to develop on four main directions:

  • production of vaccines and sera – the main activity of the institute, which is now abandoned
  • supporting and directing Romanian public health centers
  • scientific research
  • training of microbiology and immunology specialists.

Institute Cantacuzino – the sad and untold story

The sad story of Cantacuzino Institute is rarely told and very rarely spoken about by the current Romanian political leaders. As opposed to the period of glory which the institute knew in the decades after its establishment, at present, Cantacuzino doesn’t produce any vaccine whatsoever.

The once glorious institute, worldwide famous for its vaccines is now under military control and only distributes vaccines produced by its former competitors.

The last successful vaccine produced by Cantacuzino Institute was the one against A/H1N1 in 2009. The efficiency of the vaccine was exceeded only by its exceptional price: EUR 1, while its foreign competitors produced the vaccine with 5-9 EUR a dose. Romanian state ordered to be produced 5 million doses, 4.5 million to be used for domestic demand, while 0.5 million to be sent to Republic of Moldova.

Yet, it was another more recent and a very good vaccine produced by Cantacuzino: at the end of 2013, the institute successfully developed a flu vaccine. 21 days after, the Romanian National Agency for Medicines announced the vaccine is not proper for human use and withdrew the vaccine from the market.

Two years after this it was proved that the vaccine was efficient and proper for human use, but it was too late. The institute had no money at that time and no credibility after what happened with the flu vaccine.

The future of Cantacuzino Institute

Syringe and vaccine dose

Cantacuzino Institute is one very sad story of what once was the glory of the Romanian research in microbiology. Now, Romania imports all the vaccines and doesn’t have any capacity to produce its own or even other countries’ vaccines. This is more unfortunate as the context of the COVID-19 pandemic was proper for Romania to become a vaccine producer once again.

On April 1 2021, on the 100th anniversary of the Cantacuzino Insitute, the Romanian president took part in a ceremonial which was meant to mark the anniversary. The Romanian official didn’t speak about the sub-financing of the institute, nor about its future. No funding, no plans for the future, not even political promises for the institute.

No news is not always good news, especially for Cantacuzino.

Specialists claim that Cantacuzino Institute could be revived by an investment of only EUR 20 million, an affordable sum for Romania, especially when considering the million Romania lose each year on unprofitable projects, to say the least about this. This is the cost with a vaccine factory which could bear the name of the one who once offered its name to the institute: Ioan Cantacuzino, a renowned Romanian physician and bacteriologist, a professor at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy of the University of Bucharest, the very man who established the fields of microbiology research in Romania.

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