TEHRAN — Iran’s state TV is reporting that the country has approved an emergency use of its first domestically developed coronavirus vaccine that could bring the hardest-hit country in the Middle East closer to inoculating its citizens against COVID-19.
The emergency authorization was approved after the country faced with problems from importing enough vaccines.
The TV quotes the health minister, Saeed Namaki as saying, “Permission to use the Iranian vaccine COVIran Barekat was issued yesterday.”
Iranian pharmaceutical company Shifafarmed made the vaccine based on deactivated virus, and the first study of the safety and effectiveness began in late December.
Iran has also said it is working on a vaccine with cooperation from a foreign country. Namaki said that another vaccine, produced jointly by Iran and Cuba, will join the country’s vaccine package in the next week.
Iran’s local vaccine research has gained urgency as officials allege that heavy American sanctions will hamper the Islamic Republic’s mass inoculation efforts. Although Iran retains routes to vaccines, including through its participation in COVAX, an international initiative designed to distribute vaccines to countries regardless of their wealth, international banks and financial institutions are reluctant to deal with Iran for fear of American penalties. Under COVAX rules, Iran could at a maximum order enough doses to vaccinate half of its 82 million people.