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Iran’s COVID-19 vaccine 90-percent effective in initial human trials

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)
Iran’s COVIran Barekat vaccine.

Iran’s CovIran Barekat, the country's first domestically-developed COVID-19 vaccine, has showed 90-percent effectiveness, as confirmed by the first phase of human trials of the inoculation.

Mohamad Reza Salehi, who heads clinical trials for COVIran Barekat, said the results of immunogenicity tests on 35 people who volunteered to take part in the first phase of human trials of the vaccine were better than expected.

“Preliminary results show that about 90 percent of the people who received two doses of the vaccine exhibit evidence of immunity,” he told IRNA news agency, noting that more testing is needed for more precise results.

COVIran Barekat was named after the pharmaceutical group that developed it.

Last month, the head of the production team of the Iranian coronavirus vaccine at the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Khomeini said COVIran Barekat also works against the variant of coronavirus that first emerged in the UK.

Iran launched human trials of the vaccine late December after successfully completing the initial steps, including tests on animals, and obtaining necessary approvals.

By early this month, all 56 volunteers in the first phase of the vaccine’s human trials, had received both doses.

According to Salehi, the second phase of human trials is expected to start before the end of the current Persian calendar year on March 20 and last through May.

“Most probably the second and third phases will be merged together and preliminary reports will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration half-way through this stage.”

Iranian scientists have been working on developing another domestic vaccine against the coronavirus, which is also in the human trial phase.

The second COVID-19 vaccine is a product of the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute. Razi COV-Pars — an mRNA recombinant vaccine — is administered via injection and inhalation.

In parallel with efforts to develop homemade vaccines, Iran officially began the nationwide vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine earlier this month, delivering jabs to frontline health workers in the first phase.

Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on Monday that 100,000 health workers will be vaccinated starting from Tuesday as part of the second phase of inoculation campaign.

He added that 250,000 vaccine doses developed by China will be delivered to Iran next week.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said later China had donated 250,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Iran. 

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 1.3 million vulnerable people and health workers will be vaccinated before the new Persian year on March 21.  

Heath Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced on Sunday that the number of COVID-19 cases in Iran had reached 1,582,275 with 8,263 new cases reported in the previous 24 hours.

She said 89 more patients had died of the virus since Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths to 59,572.

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