Health ministry official says seven other Iranian vaccines expected to clear animal trials by late February.
Maziar Motamedi28 Dec 2020
Tehran, Iran – Iran is due to start testing a domestically produced coronavirus vaccine on human subjects as the country continues to face difficulties in importing sufficient quantities of vaccines due to US sanctions.
The only Iranian-made vaccine to clear animal trials so far, produced by Shifa Pharmed, aims to complete limited tests on 56 volunteers in its initial stage. The tests are expected to last a month, health officials said.
More than 60,000 people signed up for the trials since a call for volunteers was issued by the health ministry last week.
On Monday, a health ministry official said seven other Iranian vaccines are expected to clear animal trials by late February.
“We have a history of manufacturing vaccines at the medical institutes,” Minister of Health Saeed Namaki said on Sunday. “We will prove … that our local vaccine will be superior to many vaccines manufactured around the world.”
The governor of the Central Bank of Iran announced on Friday that Iran reached an agreement to pay for 16.8 million doses of vaccines from COVAX, a global initiative under the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all countries.
A day later, however, President Hassan Rouhani said the administration of the outgoing US President Donald Trump continues to create roadblocks for Iran and and expressed fear the money could be seized.
After unilaterally reneging on a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers with Iran in 2018, the Trump administration embarked on a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions on Iran.
Earlier this month, Iran’s Medical Council sent a letter to the WHO, urging the organisation to take measures against US sanctions that have prevented Iran from purchasing coronavirus vaccines.
On Monday, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Karim Hemmati, said Iran is trying to buy one million doses of a vaccine from China that are expected to arrive within a month.
He also said philanthropists have succeeded in securing 150,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which will arrive soon. No details of the philanthropists were provided.
Iran begins human trials of homegrown COVID-19 vaccine
More than one million people have so far contracted COVID-19 in Iran, with over 54,000 deaths
Syed Zafar Mehdi |29.12.2020
Iran began on Tuesday the first phase of human trials on its homegrown coronavirus vaccine, a week after the registration process for volunteers was announced.
The vaccine was administrated to three volunteers, in the presence of senior officials, including Vice-President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari and Health Minister Saeed Namaki.
According to officials, the human trials on the vaccine will be conducted in two phases.
Over 20,000 volunteers have signed up for the trials.
At this stage, 56 volunteers would receive two shots given two weeks apart, the results of which would be evaluated four weeks later to check the vaccine’s immunity response.
Until the vaccine gets final clearance for mass usage, Iranian efforts would continue to purchase the vaccine from the World Health Organization (WHO), officials said.
Last week, the chief of Iran’s Central Bank, Abdolnaser Hemmati, said an initial agreement to transfer money for purchasing vaccine has been made after overcoming hurdles due to US sanctions.
Iran’s top banker said the bank has allocated 200 million euros to purchase the vaccine at this stage, and is willing to allocate more resources later.
On Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country was first looking at domestic production of the vaccine, then on cooperating with other countries to produce the vaccine and finally on purchasing it from the WHO.
More than one million people in Iran have so far contracted COVID-19 and over 54,000 have died from it. The new cases and deaths have, however, dropped in recent weeks following lockdown.
The 150,000 doses come as much needed respite for Iran, which has seen over 1.2 million people infected and 55,000 killed