President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday hailed Iran’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the country’s fight against COVID-19 is “very promising” compared to that of the United States and Europe.
“The situation is very promising compared to Europe and the United States, but it should not be considered normal,” Rouhani said at a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus in Tehran.
He warned that “carelessness” may lead to the fourth wave of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran.
Iran has confirmed more than 1.4 million cases and nearly 58,000 deaths. The United States is the world’s hardest-hit nation with over 25.5 million infections and more than 431,000 fatalities. In Europe, more than 30 million people have fallen sick with the virus and nearly 700,000 others have died of it.
The president urged the Iranian people to prevent the possible fourth wave by sticking to health protocols.
"If we do not observe well in February and March, we will face restrictions."
The head of the production team of the Iranian coronavirus vaccine at the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Khomeini Saturday said the vaccine, dubbed Coviran Barekat, works against the British variant of COVID-19.
“Coviran Barekat vaccine is effective against the British mutated virus,” Dr. Hassan Jalili told Tasnim News Agency.
“Tests show that the blood plasma of the people, who were jabbed with Coviran Barekat vaccine in a clinical trial, can completely neutralize the mutated British coronavirus.”
Coviran Barekat, the first domestically-developed COVID-19 vaccine in Iran, was named after the pharmaceutical group that developed it, Press TV wrote.
Iran launched human trials of the vaccine late last month after successfully completing the initial steps, including tests on animals, and obtaining necessary approvals.
In parallel with efforts at developing home-made vaccines, Iranian authorities have said the county has plans to purchase foreign brands that pass safety and efficiency tests.
However, inhumane US sanctions have affected Iran’s ability to make the payment for importing vaccines as well as life-saving medical equipment.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has advised against imports of COVID-19 vaccines from the US and Britain amid fears that they might be trying to spread the disease, but the Iranian government can supply the vaccine from other reliable sources.
Iran buys Russian vaccine
On Saturday, Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Kazem Jalali announced that Tehran has signed a deal with Russia to buy and jointly produce Sputnik V vaccine.
The first batch of the Russian vaccine will arrive in Iran by February 4, he said, adding that the second and third contingents are also expected in a few weeks.
Within the next 10 days, a delegation from the Iranian Health Ministry will travel to Moscow to hold talks on the Sputnik V joint production.
Kianoush Jahanpour, spokesman of Iran's Food and Drug Organization, tweeted that the import of the Russian vaccine could usher in a new era of cooperation between the two countries to gain a worthy position in the field of biotechnology and vaccine industry.
Earlier this week, he said the Food and Drug Organization has issued an emergency license for the use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, produced by the Gamaleya Research Institute, in the form of frozen solution and single-dose/5-dose vials in Iran.
Iran is also examining sourcing vaccines from other producers such as India and China, he said.