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Iranian drug maker starts manufacturing Russia’s COVID vaccine

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)
Vials of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine are on display during a ceremony to launch local production for the jab in Iran in a pharmaceutical company based near the capital Tehran in Alborz province on June 26, 2021.

An Iranian pharmaceutical company has started manufacturing Russia’s flagship coronavirus vaccine as a top official defends protectionism applied to government’s vaccine supply policy which barred foreign manufacturers from launching clinical trials in Iran.  

Vials of Sputnik V vaccine produced in Iran were unveiled on Saturday in a ceremony held in the headquarters of Actover Co., a drug company whose manufacturing sites are located some 30 kilometers to the west of the capital Tehran in Alborz province.

Minister of health Saeid Namaki and Iran’s ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali were present in the ceremony attended by representatives from Russia’s government and the private sector.

Actover will produce two million doses of Sputnik V per month, according to a company official who said that the firm had obtained all certificates needed to produce the vaccine inside Iran, including those required by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.

Iran reached an agreement with Russia late last year to take delivery of tens of millions of Sputnik V vaccines to use them in its national inoculation program against the coronavirus.

To further boost the supplies, Iranian health ministry authorities also signed deals with Gamaleya and government agencies in Russia to launch local manufacturing of the vaccine by two Iranian pharmaceutical companies.

Iran has scaled up production for its home-made vaccines while also using supplies from China and COVAX, a project sponsored by the World Health Organization.

During the unveiling ceremony on Saturday health minister Saeid Namaki defended the government’s decision to avoid human trials of vaccines developed by major Western manufacturers.

Namaki said that the protectionist approach was adopted to protect the Iranian population against any risks associated with vaccine development process.

He said only vaccine developers from Cuba and Russia were allowed to launch the so-called phase III vaccine trials in Iran because they had shared their technology and allowed its use for joint manufacturing schemes inside Iran.

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