By Faranak Bakhtiari

Iran stands tall against COVID-19 ‘vaccine apartheid’

June 22, 2021 - 18:43

TEHRAN – COVID-19 created the biggest “apartheid of the century”; a full-scale war for survival. When the vaccine monopoly, took public health into the valley of politics, Iran managed to achieve a glorious victory in the production of vaccines, medicine, and medical equipment.

With the outbreak of coronavirus, the competition began in different countries for vaccine production to survive and, of course, for commercial purposes. Accordingly, with the results of studies and the introduction of vaccines, this time, regardless of the usual interactions in the sale and purchase of medical and health-oriented products, countries were forced to negotiate with a small number of vaccine manufacturers.

In the meantime, even before the vaccines were approved, several rich countries pre-purchased far beyond their needs. According to the country's health officials, more than 80 percent of the world's vaccines have been received by six countries, and a country like the United States and one of the European countries has 200 million doses of the vaccine expiring.

American, British vaccines banned into Iran

During his January 8 speech, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the Iranian-developed COVID-19 vaccine as “a source of pride,” underlining that no one should deny the breakthrough.

He also prohibited importing American and British vaccines due to their unreliable testing.

Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that Iranian researchers have tested their vaccine on humans and they will develop an even better and more effective vaccine.

“Importing American and British vaccines into the country is forbidden. I have said this to officials and I am saying it publicly now. If the Americans had managed to produce a vaccine, this corona disaster would not have occurred in their own country.

If they know how to produce a vaccine and if their Pfizer company can produce a vaccine, why would they give it to us? Well, they can use it for themselves so that they will not have so many deaths and so many victims. The same is true of England. Therefore, they are not trustworthy. I do not really trust them,” the Leader stated.

U.S. oppression 

Health Minister Saeed Namaki, in February, emphasized that until the domestic vaccine meets the country’s needs, “we will have to import vaccines for vulnerable groups.”

“Many countries in the region that say they started vaccinating a long time ago are conducting clinical trials of other countries’ vaccines. While we did not allow any foreign vaccine to be clinically tested on our people,” Namaki stated.

In the meantime, another important issue was financing the purchase of foreign vaccines, a problem that not only needed a high amount of money, but also was worsened by the U.S. sanctions, and made vaccine import tougher than ever.

Although a mechanism under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) has been set up to address the problem of vaccine shortages in developing countries, COVAX has so far lagged behind schedule due to the actions of superpower countries and has failed to achieve its goals.

Vaccine manufacturers break promises

Meanwhile, the vaccine manufacturers had made many promises to provide Iran with vaccines and several contracts were signed by the country’s officials, but unfortunately, the manufacturers could not fulfill their obligations in this field.

“We also negotiated with India to buy the vaccine, and in the first step, we bought the two million doses of the Covaxine made by the Bharat Biotech,” Kianoush Jahanpour, Food and Drug Administration spokesman said.

However, only 125,000 doses delivered to the country, and the rest were practically confiscated at the airport by the order of the Indian judiciary.

“China had promised Iran to deliver 10 million doses of the vaccine by the end of June. However, it supplied only 60 percent of the promised amount, as just 3,650,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine have been sent so far.

In its initial contract with Iran, Russia was supposed to send two million doses of vaccine, and in another contract, it had promised to sell up to 60 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine, which has so far sent only 920,000 doses of vaccine,” he lamented.

Iranian-made vaccines enter the scene

To date, a vaccine has received an emergency use license, which is the first homegrown vaccine called COVIRAN BAREKAT, which produced up to three million doses in the first month, and can provide probably between 30 and 50 million doses, by the end of September, Jahanpour stated.

The Pastu Covac vaccine, developed by the Pasteur Institute of Iran, will soon receive an emergency use license and can deliver one million doses a month in the first trimester, then two million doses a month in the second trimester, and possibly three million doses a month in the third trimester.

In addition, the CovPars Razi, Fakhra, and Spicogen vaccines are likely to be licensed for emergency use and mass-produced by late September if their clinical trial is successful.

South America, African countries, several neighboring and two European countries have asked to purchase COVIRAN vaccine, Hassan Jalili, director of the vaccine research team, said on June 8.

Although, we are capable of exporting the vaccine, however, through the policies adopted by the Ministry of Health, no vaccine will be exported until the domestic need is fully met, he stated.

Iran to thwart vaccine apartheid

While Iran is now capable of sharing the technical knowledge of domestic vaccines, many countries can use Iran's capacity to use knowledge and technology in the coming weeks or jointly produce the vaccines in their countries, Jahanpour stated.

Iran is trying to provide these facilities to these countries with a humanitarian perspective and global health approach, and some of these countries are negotiating with Iranian vaccine manufacturers to transfer technology and co-produce the products, he added.

Of course, fortunately, Iran was able to take advantage of the crisis and domestic capabilities in producing medicine, medical equipment, and today in the field of vaccines.

Today, as a manufacturer of the coronavirus vaccine, we are certainly trying to thwart vaccine monopoly and apartheid. In general, Iran is ready to transfer technology to other countries.


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