Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Receives Made-in-Iran COVID-19 Vaccine

TEHRAN-- Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei Friday received the first coronavirus vaccine developed by the Islamic Republic.

Iran leader called the development of the vaccine a point of “national pride”.

“Some insisted from a while ago that I use a vaccine,” the 82-year-old, who has had a string of previous health problems, said after receiving the first dose of the jab called COVIran Barekat.

“I didn’t want to use a non-Iranian vaccine. I said we will wait until, inshallah, the local vaccine is produced and we can use our own vaccine,” he said.

The supreme leader had in January outlawed the use of United States and United Kingdom-made vaccines, notably those developed by Pfizer and Moderna, as he said they “cannot be trusted”.

Human trials on the COVIran Barekat vaccine began in late December and about 24,000 volunteers received jabs as part of its third phase of trials that recently concluded.

The vaccine received an emergency use authorisation earlier this month and is expected to be rolled out on a large scale in the coming weeks.

Iran's local vaccine research has gained urgency as heavy American sanctions have hampered the Islamic Republic's mass inoculation efforts.

Setad, a powerful organisation under the supreme leader that is in charge of developing the vaccine, has said it now produces three million doses per month and will soon boost production to 11 million doses a month to become the largest vaccine manufacturer in the Middle East.

While the vaccine’s detailed scientific data have not been made public yet, its developers have claimed it was 93.5 percent effective among individuals 18 to 75 in its second phase of human trials.

They have also claimed 12 countries from Asia, South America and Europe wish to buy the vaccine, without naming them.

Besides COVIran Barekat, several other locally developed vaccines are in various stages of development.

A vaccine developed by Iran’s Pasteur Institute in collaboration with Cuba is finishing its third phase of human trials in several cities across Iran and is expected to receive an emergency use authorisation soon. It is said to be 62 percent effective.

Razi COV-Pars, a vaccine developed by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, is also undergoing its third phase of human trials and is expected to be approved in the coming weeks.

An organisation under Iran’s defence ministry has also developed a vaccine called Fakhravac in honour of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who was assassinated in November in an attack blamed on Israel.

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