EghtesadOnline: Iran on Tuesday launched the second phase of its national Covid-19 vaccination campaign, aiming to immunize people above 65 years as well as patients with preexisting health conditions against the infectious disease.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced the start of Phase 2 vaccinations in an event held in Tabriz to mark the occasion, IRNA reported.
“We managed to inoculate the first target group with a two-week delay,” the minister said. “We’re glad to start the second phase on time.”
The oldest age-group (over 80s) has been prioritized to receive the shots.
“The elderly in the target group are about 7.2 million and we have as many people with underlying health conditions,” spokesman for the National Coronavirus Headquarters, Alireza Raeisi, said.
“The second phase might last until July.”
Iran has imported two million vaccine jabs from various sources. To reach mass immunity, the country needs to vaccinate nearly 60 million of its population, which require 120 million doses.
Iranian authorities are optimistic about reaching mass immunity by winter after they speed up the vaccination drive using homegrown vaccines.
South African Variant
Namaki on Tuesday announced the detection of three Covid-19 patients infected with the South African variant of the coronavirus in one of the country’s southern provinces.
“We’re testing the samples with different methods to confirm it,” the minister said. “After falling into the British variant’s trap, we’re hoping not to repeat the same experience with the South African strain.”
According to Minou Mohrez, a member of NCH, the British strain is the dominant variant in Iran, with about a 70-90% prevalence.
Studies suggest that Covid-19 vaccines are less effective against the South African variant. Some pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, have developed booster shots that specifically target the variant.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday announced the deaths of 462 more coronavirus patients, taking the total number of fatalities to 70,532.
“Over the past day, 20,936 new patients were diagnosed with Covid-19 and 3,386 of them were admitted to hospitals,” the ministry’s statement read. The new infections brought the tally of confirmed cases to 2.438 million.
Worldwide Covid-19 infections jumped to 148.5 million on Tuesday and fatalities caused by the disease rose to 3.13 million.