Iran begins human trials of locally developed COVID-19 vaccine: state TV

Iran begins human trials of locally developed COVID-19 vaccine: state TV

13:42 - Iranian state media on Tuesday said the country has begun its first human trials for a domestically-manufactured coronavirus vaccine.

The shot is developed by Shifa Pharmed, a subsidiary of Barekat, the state-owned drug conglomerate, according to The Associated Press. Unlike Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which uses RNA, the Iranian treatment uses a more traditional dosage of a weakened version of the virus, akin to the polio vaccine.

Clinical trial manager Hamed Hosseini said the phase one trial will enroll 56 volunteers, who will receive two doses of the vaccine over two weeks, with results announced about a month after the final dosage.

Among the first three volunteers was Tayebeh Mokhber, whose father chairs the Setad Foundation, the state organization that oversees Barekat.

“I am happy that the scientific process went ahead in a proper way,” she said, according to the AP. “I hope the conclusion will be health for our people.”

Iranian authorities have fast-tracked a development and approval process that typically takes years with a goal of getting the vaccine to market by late spring. President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran is developing a second vaccine with an unnamed foreign country and that human testing is projected for February, the AP reported.

Iran has been the Middle Eastern epicenter of the virus, with nearly 55,000 deaths from the virus and more than 1.2 million infections. Tehran has said U.S. sanctions have undermined its attempts to buy vaccines from abroad. While the U.S. has claimed the sanctions do not apply to medicine, Rouhani has said financial sanctions mean waits of weeks or more to process payments for medical supplies.

“Our people should know that for any action we plan to carry out for importing medicine, vaccines and equipment, we should curse Trump a hundred times,” Rouhani said earlier this month.

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