EghtesadOnline: Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi on Sunday said Iran needs to keep flattening the Covid-19 curve until May or June when the addition of a homegrown vaccine will accelerate the inoculation drive.
“We only need to hold out against the outbreak for three more months until a local vaccine is made available to the public,” Harirchi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced on Sunday that a third coronavirus vaccine developed by the Defense Ministry is scheduled to start clinical trials on Tuesday.
In February, the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Khomeini, the institution that has developed the first Iranian vaccine, said the first stage of human trials has produced promising results, as the vaccine is 100% effective against the mutated variant of coronavirus found in the UK.
Officials say Iran will receive around 16 million doses of vaccines through the World Health Organization's COVAX program, import more than 25 million doses from abroad and produce 25 million doses inside the country.
Meanwhile, senior health officials have warned against travelling during the upcoming 13-day holidays at the start of the Iranian New Year (March 21), pointing out that a fourth wave of the pandemic would be more devastating than the previous three waves.
Haririchi said adherence to coronavirus safety rules is as low as 52% in six out of Iran’s 31 provinces.
“A couple of weeks ago, 83% of the public followed health protocols,” Harirchi said, stressing that problems will persist until there’s a 90% adherenc.
Nightly Driving Ban
The government has extended the nighttime curfew on driving in Iran to April 4 to cover the entire New Year holidays that start on March 21.
The 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. ban on movement with private cars has been imposed throughout the country for several months now to stop the infection from spreading through nightly gatherings.
“It doesn’t matter if a city is color-coded as blue, yellow, orange or red, the curfew has been extended in every city,” a senior member of the National Coronavirus Headquarters, Hossein Qasemi, said.
NCT has assigned color codes to cities to track transmission rates and impose localized lockdown measures. Ten cities are currently on red alert and travel to and from red and orange cities will be prohibited during the holidays.
Some 7,600 tested positive for Covid-19 within a 24-hour period, taking the total number of confirmed cases past 1.746 million, spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, said.
She said, “Over the past day, 88 Covid-19 patients lost their lives, bringing the national death toll to 61,230.”
The health official pointed out that over 1.49 million Iranians have recovered from the infectious disease so far and currently 3,800 patients are in ICU wards.
Worldwide, confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 crossed the 120 million milestone on Sunday and the number of deaths rose to 2.661 million.