Iranian customs authorities have taken delivery of a third batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines as the country moves ahead with a nation-wide immunization drive against the coronavirus pandemic.
Iranian customs office deputy chairman Mehrdad Jamali was in the Imam Khomeini airport near Tehran on Thursday to expedite customs clearance of the vaccine cargo, showed a footage published by semi-official Fars news agency.
Jamali said the vaccines would be immediately delivered to representatives of the Iranian health ministry for sending to vaccination centers across Iran.
The new batch contains 200,000 doses of Sputnik V, the jab developed by Russia and approved in Iran for vaccination of health workers and the vulnerable.
Iran had already received 240,000 doses of the vaccine on two flights from Moscow in late January and in early February.
The health ministry is also using a supply of 250,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by China in a first phase of its inoculation program.
Russia and Iran have also signed an agreement to launch joint production for Sputnik V inside Iran so that nearby countries could have an easier access to supplies of the vaccine.
Iran is expected to expand its vaccination campaign next month or in early April when a first batch of jabs being developed by the country’s Pasteur Institute in collaboration with Cuban scientists hit the markets.
A purely homemade vaccine is also due later in April while a third Iranian candidate will be ready in early summer, according to health ministry officials.
Iran hopes it could have enough vaccines to immunize some 40 million people in late summer as the country struggles to contain one of the largest outbreaks of the pandemic in the Middle East region.
The number of positive coronavirus cases in Iran increased by a daily figure of 8,404 to reach 1,665,103 on Thursday while the number of deaths soared to 60,431 with 78 new fatalities reported earlier in the day by the health ministry.