Middle East, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Iran authorizes use of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

Country has so far recorded 1.36M virus cases since outbreak in February last year, with over 57,000 fatalities

Syed Zafar Mehdi   | 30.01.2021
Iran authorizes use of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

TEHRAN 

Iran has authorized the use of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, with the first shipment expected to arrive in Tehran this week.

Iranian envoy to Moscow Kazem Jalali said Saturday that the second consignment of the Russian vaccine will reach Iran by the end of February.

In the second phase, the vaccine will be jointly produced by the two countries, Jalali said, while emphasizing its safety and efficacy.

The confirmation first came during Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit to Moscow this week, where he said the vaccine has been registered in Iran after approval from the country’s health authorities.

Produced by Russian Health Ministry’s Gamaleya Center, Sputnik V has so far been approved for use in 14 countries even though discussions at the World Health Organisation (WHO) continue over it.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had earlier banned the import of UK- and US-made vaccines, calling them “completely untrustworthy”.

The Middle East’s worst affected country has been racing against time to produce a homegrown vaccine, which authorities claim will not be available for mass usage before summer.

Last week, President Hassan Rouhani said apart from Iran’s COVAX share of 16.8 million doses of vaccine, the country is looking to buy vaccines from other places too, obliquely referring to Russia.

The decision to import the Russian-made vaccine, however, has raised concerns too.

Minoo Mehrz, a member of Iran’s National COVID-19 Taskforce, told a local daily that it was a “bad omen” for the Iranian people since information about its efficacy is still not available.

Iran has so far recorded 1.36 million cases of the virus since the outbreak in February last year, with over 57,000 fatalities.

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