In December 2020, Iran announced that it has made not one but two home-grown COVID-19 vaccines. Iran’s efforts to find a preventive treatment for the pandemic that has rattled the world have come in the face of harsh US sanctions and astounding number of people affected by the Coronavirus due to the initial governmental denial and inertia in implementing restrictive measures to prevent its transmission. In October 2020, Iran reported a record 4,151 new Coronavirus cases in one day as the worst-hit country in the region by the pandemic.
From the Epicentre of Infection to the ‘Hub of Vaccine Production’?
On December 29, 2020, Iran started the human trials of its locally manufactured COVID-19 vaccine, COVIranBarekat. The vaccine has been produced by Shifa Pharmed which is a pharmaceutical company part of a state-owned conglomerate named Setad. Owing to the unilateral imposition of sanctions against Iran by United States, it has been difficult for the former to import sufficient vaccines to meet requirements at home. COVIranBarekat is the first of eight Iranian vaccines under trials that are expected to be completed by end of February this year. The second native vaccine that has also entered the human trial phase in Iran is named, COV Pars manufactured by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute.Iranian Health Minister, Saeed Namaki said that due to these promising vaccines lined up for trials, the country could become a ‘hub of vaccine production’ in the near future.