EghtesadOnline: Vice President Mohammad Mokhber on Thursday called for a faster vaccination drive by accelerating vaccine imports and domestic production to stem the spread of the Delta variant that is taking the lives of at least 500 Iranians a day.
“The country’s first and foremost priority is the coronavirus and expediting vaccine rollout,” Mokhber was quoted as saying by ISNA in a meeting on the issue.
According to the newly appointed official, Iran needs to import 10 million jabs in the next nine days to maintain the current vaccination rates.
The country registered a record of 600,000 daily vaccinations last week as more shipments of the Chinese Sinopharm were delivered to the Health Ministry by the Iranian Red Crescent Society.
A further 20 million shots are needed by late September, Mokhber noted, “to speed up the vaccination of target groups and break the chain of transmission.”
So far only 3.6 million Iranians have been fully vaccinated. Some 14.4 million people have received the first dose of a vaccine and a total of more than 18 million shots have been administered.
President Ebrahim Raeisi on Friday morning said the government has allocated enough financial resources for vaccine procurement and asked the public to assist his administration by following health protocols.
The Delta variant, first found in India, is infecting 40,000 Iranians and killing 500 every day. The highly transmissible mutation has placed 336 cities throughout the nation on red alert and overwhelmed the healthcare system.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Wednesday addressed the devastating situation and called for vaccine imports alongside domestic production to stem the fifth wave, prompting government officials to intensify efforts to facilitate imports.
The Health Ministry has logged 4.3 million cases and 96,700 mortalities since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
Spokesman for Iran’s Food and Drug Administration, Kianoush Jahanpour, said on Thursday that the import of 40 million jabs by the end of summer had been finalized.
“We’re planning to import 40 million shots and local vaccines are also being mass-produced,” he said, pointing out that all vaccine brands can be purchased if they were not manufactured inside the United States or Britain, due to Ayatollah Khamenei’s ban which he imposed when the national vaccination campaign started.
On Thursday, 1.1 million more doses of Sinopharm arrived in Tehran. According to Customs, 22 million doses of various coronavirus vaccines have been delivered to Iran, 70% of which are the moderately effective Sinopharm.
Some 7% of the vaccines being given are homegrown.
The figure is expected to rise over the next few months as more local vaccines complete human trials.
The highly anticipated vaccine being produced by Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute is set to launch third phase of clinical trials in the near future, involving 40,000 volunteers.
Worldwide coronavirus cases rose to 206.3 million on Friday and mortalities caused by the disease reached 4.3 million.