Iran Works on Own Vaccine While Waiting for US Pfizer Shots
Iran on Tuesday announced it was proceeding to the next stage in its homegrown coronavirus vaccine production, and will begin testing the domestically manufactured inoculation on 56 volunteers in the coming days. Health officials said over 60,000 Iranians signed up to receive the test shot, and that the trials will last one month, while seven other possible vaccines also are expected to clear animal testing in the coming weeks. “We will prove … that our local vaccine will be superior to many vaccines manufactured around the world,” Minister of Health Saeed Namaki promised earlier this week. Last week, the Islamic Republic’s Central Bank reached an agreement with the World Health Organization to acquire nearly 17 million doses of United States-manufactured vaccines, yet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later said that US President Donald Trump’s administration is likely to block such a move by seizing Tehran’s payments. Iran has in recent months implored the World Health Organization and other organizations to ensure it will not be barred from access to the shot by existing Washington sanctions. Notching 55,000 deaths and 1.2 million infections, Iran has been the hardest-hit country in the Middle East since the pandemic began.