Tehran, Iran – A second locally manufactured COVID-19 vaccine will soon begin human trials in Iran, officials announced.
The vaccine, called Razi COV-Pars, was unveiled on Sunday in a ceremony in Tehran attended by a host of high-level officials.
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It has been made by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, Iran’s oldest vaccine institute with a history of almost 100 years.
According to the spokesman of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration, Kianoush Jahanpour, the vaccine will be tested on 130 volunteers in its first phase.
He said Razi COV-Pars is an mRNA vaccine that reconstructs a harmless piece of the virus’ spike protein. It will be evaluated both in the form of injection and inhalation in its first phase, with the results deciding its final use protocol.
Health minister Saeed Namaki told the audience at the unveiling ceremony that the vaccine has so far shown very few side effects and will stop the recipient from transmitting the virus to others.
Agriculture minister Kazem Khavazi said that animal trials of the vaccine began more than nine months ago and tests were conducted on about 500 animals.
“Testing on 25 monkeys was also an unprecedented record and a big undertaking during which a large number of the Razi institute’s staff contracted the virus,” he was quoted as saying by state-run IRNA.
The news came on the same day that Iran’s first vaccine, COVIran Barekat, completed its first phase of human trials that saw the vaccine administered to 56 volunteers, including a number of officials.
The human trials for the local two-dose vaccine had begun in late December and officials have said the early results will be published in less than a month.
Hojjat Niki Maleki, head of media for Setad, the powerful state-run organisation under Supreme Leader Khamenei that runs the Barekat project, said on Sunday two Arab countries have officially asked to buy the vaccine without naming the countries.
Meanwhile, the first shipment of 10,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine arrived in Iran last week just more than one week after Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, announced in Moscow that the vaccine has been approved for emergency use in Iran.
Sputnik V, whose purchase has sparked a vaccine debate in Iran, is said to be 91.6 percent effective in peer-reviewed results published last week.
The first doses of the vaccine are slated to be given to front-line health care professionals who work in intensive care units in Iranian hospitals on Tuesday, one day before the 42nd anniversary of the birth of Iran’s current ruling establishment.
Iran is fighting the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of COVID-19, with more than 58,000 lives lost and more than 1.4 million confirmed infections.