0156 GMT April 20, 2021
Development of Iranian COVID-19 vaccines is demonstrating a good progress and favorable infrastructure has been established to this end in the country, said the health minister on Wednesday.
Saeid Namaki added in the spring, Iran will begin mass production of three domestically developed vaccines by Pasteur Institute of Iran, Barakat Foundation and Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, marking a major transformation in the field, IRNA reported.
He noted that however, prior to the mass production of the homemade vaccines, “we have to import foreign jabs”.
The minister gave the assurance that the best team has been formed for importing vaccines from reliable sources.
He expressed hope that the ministry would manage to vaccinate the vulnerable and high-risk groups, such as the elderly, medical staff and people with underlying medical conditions, using foreign jabs prior to the entry of the domestic vaccines into the market to accelerate the inoculation process.
Prospering despite problems
Namaki said the Health Ministry is going through tough days as it has not received part of the pledged monetary resources, adding, however, it is doing its best to resolve the problems through patience and friendship.
He noted that 1,400 health and medical projects will be inaugurated by late April 2021, including hospitals with a total capacity of 13,000 beds and 2,500 ICU beds.
The minister said despite all the difficulties, including US unilateral sanctions and the consequent shortages, the country’s medical staff and people faced in the current Iranian calendar year (which will end on March 20) in the fight against the coronavirus, “we managed to end the year on a high note”.
In May 2018, former US president, Donald Trump, pulled his country out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran in a bid to bring the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table and hammer out a new nuclear deal.
Mostly targeting Iran’s oil and banking sectors, the sanctions, being part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, failed to produce desired results thanks to the Iranian people’s maximum resistance.
In the aftermath of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran in late February, US sanctions, for a brief period, caused problems for the country in its fight against the coronavirus as they have hampered delivery of medical items and humanitarian aid to Tehran.
However, the Iranian government soon overcame the problems and, in addition to meeting domestic needs, became an exporter of medical supplies and personal protective equipment, such as face masks and disinfectants.
Commenting on the COVID-19 vaccine shortage most countries are currently faced with, Namaki said, “From the very beginning, I knew that this will become a major problem for all states. Thus, we decided to produce homemade vaccines. We invited all influential figures and organizations in the country such as Martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the nuclear scientist who was assassinated in a suspected Israeli-linked terror attack late last year and the Barakat Foundation for cooperation in this field, as we knew that no one would give us vaccines.”
The US has just started to provide Japan, a longstanding ally of Washington, with vaccines, he stressed.
‘Refrain from intercity travel’
He said the Health Ministry is absolutely against intercity travel during the Norouz holidays (March 21-April 2) celebrated to mark the arrival of the New Year in Iran, due to the likeliness of the UK strain of the coronavirus further spreading the country and the situation getting out of hand.
“Although one month has elapsed since the identification of the first COVID-19 patients infected with the UK variant in the country, the number of the deaths is still below 100.”
Namaki further warned people against traveling to the country’s blue cities, categorized in terms of the coronavirus spread based on a color-coding system employed by the ministry to this end, lest the situation worsens and the worn-out medical staff is further attenuated.
On Tuesday, Iran unveiled a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Defense Ministry’s research center formerly headed by Martyr Fakhrizadeh, according to Press TV.
In the ceremony held in Tehran, the first phase in the human trial of the vaccine, dubbed Fakhra, was launched.
The event was attended by the health minister and Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami.
Fakhra was named to commemorate Fakhrizadeh, who played a leading role in the vaccine project as the head of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) prior to his assassination on November 27, 2020 near.
The new Iranian COVID-19 vaccine was administered to Fakhrizadeh’s son.
The official in charge of the vaccine’s production said the research and development process began last March and involved cell culture, inoculation, proliferation, isolation and purification, and inactivation and formulation.
Speaking at the ceremony, Namaki said in the spring, the Islamic Republic of Iran will become one of the most important and best vaccine manufacturers in the world.
He added that the Iran-Cuba COVID-19 vaccine is the first vaccine that will be mass produced, followed by the Coviran Barakat, Razi COV-Pars and Fakhra vaccines, respectively.
“Today is a day of pride and reliance on domestic knowledge. As an immunologist and the health minister, I testify that the method of producing vaccines in Iran is in accordance with the most scientific methods in the world…. The Fakhra vaccine’s tests on animal models have proven extremely effective and the human trials begin today,” Namaki said.
“I am proud to announce that the Islamic Republic, which has been under sanctions and subjected to oppression by those who deprived patients of medicine and lied, shines as one of the leading countries in the management of the coronavirus [pandemic] in the world,” he added.
On Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described as glorious successful measures taken so far in the country to develop the homemade COVID-19 vaccines and purchase foreign jabs under the present tough circumstances, according to IRNA.
He made the remarks after receiving reports by related domestic organizations about the implemented measures to import safe and reliable vaccines from Russia, China and India, IRNA reported.
He stressed the necessity of continued follow-ups in this regard.
Appreciating efforts to this end by the Health Ministry, Foreign Ministry and, in particular, Iranian ambassadors to Russia, China and India, the president appreciated the Central Bank of Iran and the country’s Plan and Budget Organization for making available the foreign currency resources needed for importing vaccines.
He called on the health minister to provide, as in the past year, transparent and precise statistics and information on the number of the coronavirus infections and deaths in the country as well as methods to fight the virus and follow the same trend with regard to people’s vaccination.
Rouhani stressed that the country’s honorable people must be informed of the details of the nationwide vaccination process, which is a major move, urging for greater transparency in the process lest any doubt or ambiguity arises.
He added Iran has managed to put in a brilliant performance both in terms of developing homemade vaccines and purchasing foreign jabs while it has been in an enemy-imposed economic war and faced with a tough and breathtaking situation since a few years ago, which is a glorious achievement.