MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- Iran and Russia’s sovereign wealth fund are discussing the joint production of a vaccine against COVID-19, Russian news agencies cited the Iranian ambassador to Moscow as saying on Friday.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has said it is in talks with a number of countries about the possibility of producing the Russian ‘Sputnik-V’ vaccine abroad, and has signed a deal to manufacture 300 million doses in India.
"We are holding talks, I spoke with the head of RDIF Kirill Dmitriev, our officials have held several rounds of consultations and we announced that we will co-operate,” Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Kazem Jalali was quoted as saying.
"We announced that we will co-operate in two-three areas. That includes joint production with Russia. Iran has great potential to produce the vaccine,” Jalali was quoted as saying.
RDIF declined to comment on the Iran talks. RDIF has also struck several deals in recent weeks to supply the vaccine, which is currently being tested in a large-scale trial in Moscow, abroad.
It has signed deals with Kazakhstan and two states in Brazil, and private pharmaceutical firms in India and Mexico.
RDIF also said earlier on Friday it would supply 35 million doses to Laxisam, a pharmaceutical firm in Uzbekistan.
Iran’s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 207 to 25,222 on Friday, with the total number of identified cases spiking to 439,882, a health ministry spokeswoman said.
It was the highest single-day death toll since the ministry registered 216 deaths on August 1.
Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that 3,563 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran.
Iran’s health officials have voiced alarm over a surge in infections, urging the nation to respect health protocols to control the spread of the disease.
Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday unilateral U.S. restrictions on Iran’s efforts to comprehensively confront the scourge of the new coronavirus are nothing short of "economic and medical terrorism,” urging the country’s Asian partners to stand up to the coercive measures as they unify their resources against the common health threat.
"We need to jointly confront the destructive impact of unilateral coercive measures on efforts to combat the pandemic. They are nothing but economic and medical terrorism,” he told the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
"And we must refuse to comply with these unlawful measures in our collective endeavor to tackle this common affliction of humanity,” the foreign minister added.
Zarif was in Moscow where he held a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov who said his country rejects a U.S. bid to "permanently” extend an arms embargo against the Islamic Republic that will legally expire next month.
"We stressed that Moscow and Tehran, like the entire international community, categorically reject U.S. ambitions to impose some kind of indefinite arms embargo,” the top diplomat said.
The ban on sales of conventional weapons to Iran is set to expire on October 18 under an international nuclear agreement signed with Tehran in 2015.
On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo falsely alleged that "virtually all UN sanctions have returned on Iran,” including "a permanent extension of the arms embargo.”
"We have heard the U.S. statement that, despite the will of the entire international community, they will proceed from the premise that the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions against Iran would be restored at Washington’s whim. These attempts using illegal means have no prospect of succeeding,” Lavrov said.
"We agreed to continue the implementation of major joint investment projects, first and foremost in the sphere of energy, including nuclear power, as well as transportation and industrial cooperation,” he added.
The Russian-Iranian Joint Economic Commission, he said, will be meeting before the end of the year in line with the two countries’ common will to expand their relations.