Health Minister Saeed Namaki said Monday that Iran will start using homegrown vaccines as of next week to immunize people against COVID-19.
“As I promised that the Iranian vaccine will be on the table in June and ready for injection, God willing, we will begin the process next week,” Namaki said.
He added that vaccination with Iranian jabs will be “voluntary” in the first phase due to certain protocols.
Namaki noted that he and his colleagues will volunteer to receive Iranian vaccines, describing them as “safest” domestically-made vaccine.
Kianoush Jahanpour, the head of the Health Ministry’s Public Relations and Information Center, said on Monday that two vaccines are awaiting authorization to be used in the mass immunization program.
Jahanpour said permits for voluntary use of COVIran Barekat and Soberana-2 will be issued soon.
He said the vaccines delivered “favorable results” in the third and final phase of their clinical trials.
COVIran is produced by Shifa Pharmed, which has been involved in the large-scale production of antibiotics and penicillin since its founding in 1995. The company is part of a pharmaceutical corporation known as Barakat, which is owned by the Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam.
COVIran was unveiled in December. The third phase of the vaccine’s clinical trial began in late April, conducted in six cities with a population of 20,000, among people in the age group of 18 to 70 years, Press TV wrote.
On Sunday, head of COVIran Barekat vaccine research group Hassan Jalili announced that one million doses of the vaccine will be produced this month and delivered to the Health Ministry.
The scale of production will increase to three million doses next month, followed by 10 to 12 million doses by July, and 13 to 15 million doses by August, according to officials.
Officials have said the jab is estimated to have up to 90% efficiency.
Minoo Mohraz, a senior member of Iran’s coronavirus taskforce, said on Sunday COVIran Barekat is “efficient beyond expectations”.
“COVIran Barekat vaccine is effective and immune, and we hope that our vaccine would have the highest percentage of efficiency and immunity,” she told reporters.
She said Iran no longer needs to import COVID-19 vaccines once the mass production of the domestically-produced vaccine begins.
Soberana-2 vaccine, jointly developed by Iran and Cuba, is on the verge of completing its third clinical trial and slated for industrial-scale production.
Developed by Cuba's Finlay Vaccine Institute and Pasteur Institute of Iran, it will be the first coronavirus vaccine to be produced in Iran through the transfer of technical knowledge, Jahanpour said.
He said the vaccine has shown significant level of safety and efficacy during clinical trials, first in Cuba and then in Iran.
Iran began mass vaccination against COVID-19 with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine on February 9.
Iran has received vaccine shipments from Russia, China and the COVAX initiative.
So far, according to government statistics, around 3.5 million have received one dose of the vaccine, while around 516 thousand people have recently received both doses, mostly frontline health workers, elderly people and other high-risk groups.
Some 70,000 patients battling with rare diseases have also received the jabs.
The country was caught in the grip of the fourth wave of the pandemic after the New Year holidays; however, the cases have dropped significantly in recent weeks.
More than 80,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Iran since the start of the pandemic.