Head of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration Mohammad Reza Shanehsaz says the country has purchased 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine, whose first shipment arrived in Iran on Thursday.
“The first batch of the Russian vaccine arrived in the country today and our colleagues received it at Imam Khomeini International Airport,” Shanehsaz said in a televised interview on Thursday.
He said the arrival of the Sputnik-V vaccine shipment showed the beginning of the implementation of a deal between Tehran and Moscow over the purchase of the vaccine.
The official said the next shipments will be delivered to Iran “very soon.”
He explained that other reliable and authorized vaccines have been identified by Iranian experts and that the purchase of vaccines from companies in India and China is on the agenda.
“Also, we are trying to co-produce this vaccine with Cubans,” he said.
Iran received the first shipment of the Sputnik-V vaccine earlier on Thursday, after the vaccine’s efficacy was reported to be around 92%. The medical journal the Lancet published an article proving its effectiveness based on trial vaccination of nearly 22,000 volunteers. Seventy-five percent of the participants received the vaccine, while the rest were given placebos.
Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Kazem Jalali said the delivery was made after an agreement on January 29 to enable joint work on the vaccine’s production.
Iran expects to receive two more such cargos by February 18 and February 28, the envoy said.
Jalali added that following the third shipment, more cargoes are to be sent over at respectively two-week- and one-month-long intervals.
The vaccine imports are made as inhumane US sanctions have affected Iran’s ability to make the payment for importing vaccines as well as life-saving medical equipment.
Iran is also testing its own coronavirus vaccine, called Coviran Barekat, which will be rolled out in early April.
“We are highly optimistic to begin vaccination plan against corona (virus) in the country using the Iranian vaccine in late Farvardin (early April),” Mohammad Mokhber, Director of the Executive Headquarters of Imam’s Directive or SETAD, the organization behind the production of Coviran Barekat, said earlier this week.
Iran and Cuba signed an agreement last month to cooperate in a coronavirus vaccine project. The vaccine, called Subrana 2, is now undergoing the human phase trials by the Cuban Finlay Institute and the Pasteur Institute of Iran.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has advised against the imports of COVID-19 vaccines from the United States 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.