Iran has officially launched the third phase in the clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Iranian Defense Ministry’s research center.
In a ceremony on Monday, head of the Defense Ministry’s department of health, relief and treatment Reza Allahveran received a dose of the vaccine to kick off phase three.
The vaccine has been named Fakhra after nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the former head of the ministry’s research center who was assassinated last year. Israel has been suspected of assassinating several Iranian scientists since 2010.
The ceremony was also attended by Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani and Health Minister Bahram Einollahi.
During the third phase of the clinical trial, which is expected to be concluded in three months, 40,000 volunteers will be injected with the Fakhra vaccine.
“We hope that soon, by conducting part of the phase three trial, we will receive the emergency use authorization for the Fakhra vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration so that we can deliver the produced vaccines to the Health Ministry to be included in the national vaccination basket,” Allahveran said.
As many as 135 people got vaccine jabs during the first phase of the Fakhra coronavirus vaccine which began on March 16. The second phase saw 500 people receiving the vaccine beginning on June 9.
On the sidelines of the Monday ceremony, Einollahi said it was a “great honor for us that the Leader was inoculated with an Iranian vaccine against the coronavirus disease,” pointing to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who received two doses of the COVIran vaccine, the first homegrown coronavirus vaccine, in June and July.
“I assure you that Fakhra is among the high quality and effective vaccines,” the health minister added.
For his part, Ashtiani pledged to deliver 20 million doses of the Fakhra vaccine to the Health Ministry by the end of the Iranian year, which falls on March 20.
He also described the production of vaccines as a kind of military exercise for the armed forces in the fight against potential viruses that may threaten the country in the future.
Fakhra is an inactivated virus vaccine, and is administered in two doses 14 days apart.