A health ministry official said seven more Iranian vaccines are expected to complete animal testing by the end of February.
Tehran, Iran – Iran is expected to start testing a domestically produced coronavirus vaccine on human subjects as the country continues to face difficulties importing sufficient quantities of the vaccine due to US sanctions.
The only Iranian-made vaccine to have passed animal testing so far, produced by Shifa Pharmed, aims to perform limited testing on 56 volunteers in its initial phase. The tests are expected to last a month, health officials said.
More than 60,000 people have signed up for the trials since a call for volunteers was launched by the Department of Health last week.
On Monday, a health ministry official said seven more Iranian vaccines are expected to complete animal trials by the end of February.
“We have a history of making vaccines in medical institutes,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on Sunday. “We will prove… that our local vaccine will be superior to many vaccines manufactured around the world.”
Iran has managed to reduce its daily COVID-19 deaths to less than 120 this week after more than three months by imposing partial closures, nighttime curfews and continuing the ban on intra-city travel.
With nearly 55,000 deaths and 1.2 million infections, Iran has been the hardest-hit country in the Middle East.
The governor of the Central Bank of Iran announced on Friday that Iran had reached an agreement to pay for 16.8 million doses of COVAX vaccines, a global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) that targets to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all countries.
A day later, however, President Hassan Rouhani said that the administration of incumbent US President Donald Trump was continuing to create roadblocks for Iran and expressed concern that the money could be seized.
After unilaterally reneging on a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers with Iran in 2018, the Trump administration has embarked on a campaign of “maximum pressure” of economic sanctions against Iran.
Earlier this month, the Iranian Medical Council sent a letter to the WHO, urging the organization to take action against U.S. sanctions that have prevented Iran from purchasing coronavirus vaccines.
On Monday, Iranian Red Crescent Society chief Karim Hemmati said Iran was trying to buy one million doses of a vaccine from China that are expected to arrive within a month.
He also said that philanthropists have managed to obtain 150,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which will arrive soon. No details on philanthropists were provided.