HAVANA, March. 23 (Xinhua) -- With homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, Cuba expects to immunize over 50 percent of its population by August, a senior official said Tuesday.

"We plan to vaccinate over 6 million people by August," Ileana Morales, director of science and technological innovation at the island's ministry of public health said on TV. "Between June and July, we could begin vaccinating nearly 2.2 million senior citizens as well as medical workers and people with underlying health conditions."

COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in the Caribbean nation could also apply for emergency use authorization from Cuba's Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices, Morales added.

At present, phase 3 clinical trials for two Cuban COVID-19 vaccine candidates are underway, involving participants from the country's capital as well as from the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and Granma.

Cuba, with a population of more than 11 million people, strives to contain its sharpest rise in COVID-19 daily cases since the pandemic began, following the reopening of international airports and Christmas break.

In Havana, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic on the island, nearly 1.7 million people will have received doses of the homegrown COVID-19 vaccine candidates by May as part of an intervention study, according to the health ministry.

By the end of the year, the Caribbean nation plans to immunize its entire population.

On Tuesday, Cuba logged a total of four fatalities from COVID-19 and 774 new coronavirus infections, taking the national counts 401 and 68,250 respectively.