Just hours into the start of a national enrollment program for volunteers, almost 10,000 Iranians signed up to take part in the first phase of the human trials of the homegrown COVID-19 vaccine.
Hassan Jalili, director of the research team in the production of the coronavirus vaccine at the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Khomeini, said on Wednesday that as many as 17,000 people had contacted 4030, the national hotline set up since the first days of coronavirus outbreak in Iran to provide expert consultation and screening, to inquire about the clinical trials and the eligibility requirements, according to Press TV.
More than 9,900 volunteers enrolled to participate in the Iranian COVID-19 vaccine trials, he added.
Elaborating on the requirements, Jalili explained that the volunteers should be aged between 18 and 50, of good health and have no history of allergies and coronavirus infection.
"During the first stage, 56 candidates will be selected to receive two shots administered 14 days apart. The results of the first phase will be assessed 28 days later to monitor the vaccine's immune response,” he said.
Jalili hailed the “enormous” and “unparalleled” accomplishments of young Iranian scientists at knowledge-based companies over the past 10 months as part of efforts to produce the Iranian vaccine.
Test on animals
The vaccine was first tested on pigs, rabbits and guinea pigs after the completion of preliminary research work based on the protocols of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Jalili said.
Later tests on monkeys, he added, produced satisfactory results and no side effects.
Authorities have assured the Iranian people that efforts to produce domestic vaccines will by no means impede the import of foreign brands, and that they will do their best to procure COVID-19 vaccines from abroad as well.
The large-scale illegal US sanctions have seriously hampered Iran's efforts to stem the outbreak by blocking the country's access to life-saving medications, vaccines included.
However, Iran has managed to decrease the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in recent weeks.
Iran’s Health Ministry on Wednesday reported the lowest death toll since September 19.
The ministry said 153 people lost their lives from Tuesday to Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 54,156, according to IRNA.
The ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Wednesday 6,261 people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of the new infections to 1,177,004.
New infections, deaths and hospitalizations have significantly declined in recent weeks as a result of tough restrictions imposed since November 21.
A new variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in Britain has also prompted the country’s authorities to take preemptive measures.
Iran’s Health Minister Saeid Namaki said on Wednesday that the new mutation coronavirus has not been detected in Iran so far, stressing that passengers from the UK are being quarantined for two weeks.
Speaking on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting, Namaki said the UK announced the new mutation coronavirus with a two-month delay, adding that upon receiving the information, Iran halted flights to and from the European country.
Namaki said that the passengers entering Iran from the UK in the past three weeks were one-by-one examined and no cases of new variant version were detected.