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Iran's COVID-19 vaccine rollout to start in February

Healthcare workers seen at Firouzabadi Hospital's intensive care unit of Covid-19 patients, in Rey district in the southeast of the capital Tehran, Iran on December 20, 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu Agency]
Healthcare workers seen at an intensive care unit of Covid-19 patients, in Tehran, Iran on 20 December 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu Agency]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the country's vaccination campaign against the coronavirus pandemic is likely to roll out in February with imported vaccines, Anadolu Agency reports.

Speaking at a meeting in the capital Tehran, Rouhani said it is "necessary" to use foreign-manufactured vaccines until the homegrown vaccines are ready for mass usage.

While COVID-19 vaccination campaigns have kick-started across the world, Iran's race for the vaccine continues amid concerns over the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Tehran has faced impediments in importing foreign vaccines owing to US sanctions, and the recent ban announced on the vaccines produced in the US and the UK has left the country with fewer options.

Rouhani said apart from Iran's COVAX share of 16.8 million doses of vaccine, the country is looking to buy vaccines from other places too, without specifying the source.

READ: Rouhani: Iran bans foreign companies from testing COVID-19 vaccines on Iranians

He said three homegrown vaccines – Barakat, Raazi, Pasteur – will be ready for use in spring or summer after the Iranian New Year (March 21).

Pertinently, the human trial of Iran's homegrown COVID-19 vaccine started on December 29 last year after over 20,000 volunteers had signed up for the trial.

Rouhani noted the significant drop in new infections and fatalities from the virus in recent weeks, but warned that the fourth wave could be looming if guidelines are not followed.

The Iranian leader said the health protocols must continue for another six months until the vaccines are administered, calling for intensification of monitoring process.

Iran has so far recorded 1.36 million cases of the virus since the outbreak in February last year, with over 57,000 fatalities.

At least, six cases of the English variant of the virus have also been identified in the country in recent weeks, prompting fear and concern.

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