0350 GMT July 15, 2020
Three companies currently producing coronavirus test kits in Iran are capable of meeting domestic demand for the product, said the CEO of one the firms.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Sina Hassanalizadeh, put demand by Iranian labs for the test kits at 500,000 per month.
He said previously, the Health Ministry had to import the item but, at present, the country is no longer in need of purchasing the product from foreign companies in view of the increased domestic production.
Hassanalizadeh noted that his company is capable of producing 100,000 coronavirus test kits per week, saying since March 25, it has delivered 12,000 kits to customers.
He put production capacities of the other two Iranian companies at 80,000 and 20,000 per week, saying these, in addition to his firm’s weekly capacity, amount to 800,000 kits per month, exceeding the Health Ministry’s monthly demand.
Hassanalizadeh said Iranian kits are €1 cheaper than their foreign counterparts, putting their price at less than €5.
He stressed that if Iran had not managed to produce the test kits domestically, foreign firms would not provide the country with the product on the pretext of US sanctions.
Hassanalizadeh added in the absence of the domestic production of the item, importing the product at a much higher price would have been the best scenario.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s sanctions on Tehran. Mainly targeting Iranian oil and banking sectors, the sanctions have even hampered delivery of humanitarian aid to the country and the Islamic Republic’s purchase of drugs and medical equipment amid its fight against the virus.
Following the identification of the first coronavirus cases in Iran in late February, a number of Iranian companies began conducting research on the production of test kits, relying on domestic knowledge and capabilities. Efforts to this end soon produced favorable results and they managed to produce the kits.
Hassanalizadeh, whose company is a subsidiary of Iran’s Barkat Ventures, added the production of the domestic coronavirus test kits was in fact the outcome of activities by an Iranian research center affiliated with the University Jihad’s Motamed Cancer Institute (MCI), established by a number of domestic researchers and experts.
He noted that in the beginning, MCI aimed to develop the technology of detecting and treating different types of cancers, a field in which it is still involved.
Iran’s Barkat Ventures is a knowledge-based institute affiliated with the headquarters of the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO).
Hassanalizadeh said after the coronavirus outbreak in the country, given the similarities between the genetic detection of cancers and identification of the virus, the University Jihad assigned the responsibility of manufacturing the coronavirus test kits to the MCI.
The MCI soon managed to produce the first sample of the kits, he added.
Hassanalizadeh said following negotiations and interactions, the University Jihad and this company, which was already operating in the field of investing in production of such medical equipment, entered into partnership, and the former became a stakeholder in the latter.
He noted that Barkat Ventures became the main investor in the production of the kits, providing $7.14 million in funds.
Established as EIKO’s executive arm in the development of the country’s knowledge-based economy, Barkat Ventures’ mission is the creation and expansion of the ecosystem and infrastructure required for the development of knowledge and knowledge-based activities in the country, according to barkatventures.com.
To these ends, it has placed on its agenda making maximum use of the capabilities of domestic scientists and experts and expanding cooperation with the country’s institutes and organizations involved in the fields of science, technology and the knowledge-based economy.
Hassanalizadeh said after finalizing the contract with Barkat Ventures, his company managed to obtain a permit from the Pasteur Institute of Iran – a medical research center located in Tehran – in late March.
He added that a few days later the company received another permit and began production of the test kits, noting that following his company, the two other Iranian firms also started manufacturing the item.