EghtesadOnline: A total of 58.32 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been imported to Iran from Feb. 3 to Sept. 17, the technical deputy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration said.
“From a total of 54 shipments, 31 belonged to Sinopharm from China with 48.73 million doses,” Mehrdad Jamal Arvanaghi was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
According to the official, 54% of the vaccines were imported in the sixth month of the current fiscal year (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) and 23% in the preceding month (July 23-Aug. 22), which means 77% of the vaccines were imported in two months.
The total value of all Covid-19 vaccines imported from Feb. 3 to Sept. 12 stood at $421 million, he said earlier.
“Each Sinopharm vaccine made in China costs $9.2, AstraZeneca made in China $4, AstraZeneca made in Japan $4, COVAX made in Italy $4, Sputnik V made in Russia $10, AstraZeneca made in Russia $6.5, COVAX made in South Korea $4 and AstraZeneca made in Austria $4 and Bharat (COVAXIN) made in India $14.5,” he said.
A total of 40.73 million doses of Chinese Sinopharm, 1.45 million Chinese AstraZeneca, 2.91 million Japanese AstraZeneca, 1.45 million Italian AstraZeneca (COVAX), 1.05 million Russian Sputnik V, 963,000 Russian AstraZeneca, 700,800 South Korean AstraZeneca (COVAX) and 125,000 Indian Bhara) were imported during the period.
“Some of the imported vaccines have been donated to Iran and the import process is continuing,” the official said.
Nasser Riahi, chairman of Iranian Pharmaceutical Importers Association, said 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines will have been imported by the end of 2021 as per contracts signed with international manufacturers.
The private sector representative Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a vaccine-sharing program coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines for poor and middle-income countries.
“Iran’s share of COVAX-supplied doses is estimated to stand at 16.8 million for 25% of the population,” he said.
“Iran needs to purchase vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna supplied by COVAX via the World Health Organization due to banking issues. The country pays its financial commitments to WHO that pays the vaccine manufacturers.”
The official noted that Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are ready to send 20 million doses of vaccines to Iran each, but such imports might take months due to restrictions regarding temperature requirements for shipping and storage.
Riahi added that contracts were signed for the import of 30-50 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, but the neighboring country failed to fully deliver on its promises.
“Fifty million doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine are expected to be imported from China ... Vaccine imports from South Korea and China will continue. A part of Bharat Biotech’s vaccines was scheduled to be purchased from India, but the import did not materialize due to certain problems while imports of AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ongoing from different countries,” he said.
Noting that at present the private sector is not carrying out imports of vaccines, Riahi said, “The private sector companies are ready to import vaccines on a not-for-profit basis and with the license issued by the Health Ministry to deliver them to the government at the airport, or put them at the disposal of companies that are willing to vaccinate their staff members.”
“The private sector has imported 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines so far. I’m asking the new health minister to change current conditions in order to facilitate transactions and accelerate vaccine imports,” he concluded.
The vaccination process in Iran has recently gained pace as the new administration led by President Ebrahim Raeisi has placed it on top of its agenda.
Iran now holds the weekly vaccination record in the world after it administered 7.9 million doses in the past week, Health Minister Bahram Eynollahi said recently.
The previous record belonged to Germany with six million weekly vaccinations.
So far, 27.8 million Iranians have received a first dose and more than 13.4 people have been fully vaccinated.