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Iran to begin imports of Russian vaccine this week: Official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture taken on January 30, 2021 shows a pack of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 coronavirus disease before being administered for the first time to people at a clinic near the Algerian capital.

Iranian officials say a first batch of Russian-made COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the country later this week.

Civil aviation authority spokesman Mohammad Hassan Zibakhsh said on Monday that Iran’s Mahan Air had been tasked with transporting the first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine into Iran.

Zibakhsh said vaccine imports from Russia would be accommodated through three flights with two other Iranian airlines involved in the process.

The official did not elaborate on the number of doses planned for he first shipment shipment. However, he said an arrival planned for February 4 had been cancelled and that the Mahan Air will transport the cargo next working week beginning Saturday.

Iran’s ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali said on Saturday that a first batch of Sputnik V vaccines will be sent to Iran on February 7, citing an agreement with the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the body in Russia responsible for international marketing of vaccine.

Iran has been among dozens of countries seeking to take delivery of the Russian vaccine as the country struggles to contain one of largest outbreaks of the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a visit to Moscow last week that Iranian authorities had approved the Russian vaccine.

Iran is also planning to start local manufacturing of Sputnik V, a two-shot vaccine which is based on two inactive viruses.

A Tass news agency report on Saturday quoted Jalali as saying that an Iranian health ministry delegation is due to arrive in Moscow to discuss the local manufacturing of the Russian vaccine in Iran.

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