Iran says its first locally made vaccine has shown better results than expected in preliminary trials.

Tehran, Iran – Iran has stated that its main vaccine candidate against COVID-19 is 90 percent effective according to preliminary results.

Mohamad Reza Salehi, director of clinical trials for COVIran Barekat, told the government-funded Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that immunogenicity tests on 35 of the volunteers who participated in the first phase of the human vaccine trials were better than expected results.

“Preliminary results show that about 90 percent of people who received two doses of the vaccine show signs of immunity,” he said, adding that more testing is needed for more accurate results.

Officials had previously said Barekat was “100 percent effective” against the COVID-19 variant first discovered in the UK.

The first of a total of 56 volunteers admitted to the first phase of the vaccine’s human trials was injected in late December, and by the beginning of this month all volunteers had received both doses.

The second phase of human trials is expected to begin before the end of the current Iranian calendar year on March 20 and last through May.

“Most likely, the second and third phases will merge and preliminary reports will be presented to the Food and Drug Administration in the middle of this phase,” Salehi said.

The Barekat vaccine is administered by Setad, a powerful state organization under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But it’s not the country’s only hopeful candidate against COVID-19.

Earlier this month, officials said a second locally-made vaccine called Razi COV-Pars would soon begin human trials.

An mRNA vaccine developed by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, Iran’s oldest vaccine institute with almost 100 years of history, is being tested on 133 volunteers in its first phase.

Officials hope to begin public vaccinations with locally made candidates in the next few months.

At the same time, Iran is trying to import a variety of foreign vaccines, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, China’s Sinopharm and India’s Bharat.

So far, the only vaccine that has actually been approved and given to Iranians has been the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which was imported in limited doses earlier this month and given to frontline health workers.

Iran has suffered nearly 60,000 deaths in three waves of COVID-19, and officials are now warning that a fourth wave may come.


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