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Iran unveils COVID-19 vaccine named to honor assassinated scientist Fakhrizadeh

The Fakhra COVID-19 vaccine produced by the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research is unveiled during a ceremony in Tehran on March 16, 2021. (Photo by IRNA news agency)

Iran has unveiled a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Defense Ministry’s research center formerly headed by nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated in a suspected Israeli-linked terror attack late last year.

The first phase in the human trial of the vaccine, dubbed Fakhra, was launched during a ceremony in Tehran on Tuesday, with Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami and Health Minister Saeed Namaki in attendance.

Fakhra was named to commemorate Fakhrizadeh, who played a leading role in the vaccine project as the head of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) prior to his assassination on November 27, 2020, near Tehran in a terrorist operation apparently linked to the Israeli regime.

The new Iranian COVID-19 vaccine was administered to the son of Fakhrizadeh.

The official in charge of the vaccine’s production said the research and development process began last March and it involved cell culture, inoculation, proliferation, isolation and purification, and inactivation and formulation.

The Fakhra COVID-19 vaccine is administered to the son of assassinated nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a ceremony in Tehran on March 16, 2021. (Photo by IRIB news agency)

Later, he added, the vaccine was tested on more than 650 animals from different species of mice, rabbits, guinea pigs and monkeys.

The design and construction of a factory for the vaccine’s mass production has started, he said, expressing hope that it will enter the production phase in summer.

Iran to be among top vaccine producers in spring

Speaking at Tuesday’s event, Namaki said in the spring, the Islamic Republic will become one of the most important and best vaccine manufacturers in the world.

He added that the Iran-Cuba COVID-19 vaccine is the first vaccine that will be mass produced, followed by the CovIran Barekat, Razi COV-Pars and Fakhra vaccines, respectively.

“Today is a day of pride and reliance on indigenous knowledge. As an immunologist and the health minister, I testify that the method of producing vaccines in Iran is in accordance with the most scientific methods in the world…. The Fakhra vaccine’s tests on animal models have proven extremely effective and the human trials begin today,” Namaki said.

“I am proud to announce that the Islamic Republic, which has been under sanctions and subjected to oppression by those who deprived patients of medicine and lied, shines as one of the leading countries in the management of the coronavirus [pandemic] in the world,” he added.

In addition to developing domestic vaccines, Iran has imported reliable foreign vaccines.

So far, a total of 1,260,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been imported to the country from Russia, China, India and Cuba, according to Alireza Raeisi, the spokesman for the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus.

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