Iranian state television reports that the country’s top leader has received the first domestically developed coronavirus vaccine
In January, Khamenei banned imports of American and British vaccines, reflecting distrust of the West.
Iranian pharmaceutical company Shifafarmed made the vaccine COVIran Barekat based on the deactivated virus, and the first safety and effectiveness study began in late December.
The emergency permit was approved last week after the hardest-hit country in the Middle East struggled to import enough vaccines.
Iran has not released data on the vaccine’s effectiveness, but claims that people who receive the homemade vaccination are about 85% immune to the deadly virus.
Iranian officials said the death toll from Covid-19 rose 115 during the day through Friday, bringing the country’s total to 83,588 since the pandemic broke out last year.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said 10,820 new confirmed cases were registered over the same period, bringing the total to 3,150,949.
At least 1,397 people were hospitalized with the virus, she added.
Lari said 3,219 of the patients are in serious condition and 2,809,595 have recovered so far. Iran remains one of the hardest hit countries in the world.
Iran has also announced that it is working on a vaccine in collaboration with another country. Iranian authorities said that another vaccine jointly produced by Iran and Cuba will join the country’s vaccine package in the coming days.
Iran’s local vaccine research has grown in urgency as officials claim severe American sanctions will hamper the Islamic Republic’s mass vaccination efforts.
Iran retains some access to vaccines, including through its participation in COVAX, an international initiative to distribute vaccines to countries regardless of their wealth. But international banks and financial institutions are reluctant to negotiate with Iran for fear of American penalties. Under the COVAX rules, Iran could order enough doses to vaccinate half of its 82 million people.