Iran begins first human trial of locally made virus vaccine

The first study of the safety and effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine in Iran began Tuesday, state TV reported, with dozens due to receive the domestically developed shot in the hardest-hit country in the Middle East.

30 December 2020
ID : 22700
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The first study of the safety and effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine in Iran began Tuesday, state TV reported, with dozens due to receive the domestically developed shot in the hardest-hit country in the Middle East.

Tayebeh Mokhber is injected with the Coviran coronavirus vaccine produced by Iran on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. Photo: AP

The first study of the safety and effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine in Iran began Tuesday, state TV reported, with dozens due to receive the domestically developed shot in the hardest-hit country in the Middle East.

The vaccine, produced by Shifa Pharmed, part of a state-owned pharmaceutical conglomerate, is the first in the country to reach human trials. President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran is cooperating with a "foreign country" to produce another vaccine expected to run in tests in human volunteers in February, without offering further details.

Iran has struggled to stem the worst virus outbreak in the region, which has infected over 1.2 million people and killed nearly 55,000.

The study, a Phase 1 clinical trial, will enroll a total of 56 volunteers to receive two shots of Iran’s vaccine within two weeks, according to Hamed Hosseini, a clinical trial manager, with results to be announced roughly a month after the second shot. Three people received the first injections on Tuesday at a ceremony at a Tehran hotel attended by the country's health minister. Authorities expect to the vaccine to hit the market by late spring 2021.

The treatment, dubbed Coviran, is a so-called inactivated vaccine, meaning that it is made of a coronavirus that has been weakened or killed by chemicals, similar to how polio immunizations are made. Leading Western vaccines, like the shot made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, use newer, less-proven technology to target the coronavirus’ spike protein using RNA.

Still, with progress slow in Iran's vaccine research as Western countries grant approval for emergency use of vaccines and kick off mass inoculation campaigns, Iranian authorities have stressed the need to import vaccines.

Iran tough American sanctions undermine its efforts to purchase foreign-made vaccines and inoculate their citizens. U.S. sanctions do have specific carve-outs for medicine and humanitarian aid to Iran. However, international banks and financial institutions hesitate in dealing with Iran transactions for fear of being fined or locked out of the American market.

 

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