TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran will produce 1.5 million doses of a homegrown vaccine within the next 30 to 40 days, said the director of Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam on Monday after meeting with the researchers who produced the vaccine.
During the meeting, Muhammad Mokhber said the production will reach 12 million doses per month in the next six months, IRIB News reported.
Iran reported the first cases of the coronavirus in mid-February, soon becoming a hub where the deadly virus rapidly spread, making the country one of the hardest-hit in the region.
So far, more than 1.2 million people in Iran have contracted the virus and over 54,000 have lost their lives. However, in recent weeks, with the imposition of tighter social restrictions, the new cases and deaths have dropped significantly.
Iran is also under illegal, inhumane sanctions imposed by the United States, which have hampered its access to medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, and complicated the process of importing vaccines from other countries. But the country is fairly optimistic about the production of local vaccines.
According to Mokhber, a plan to mass-produce the homemade vaccine is in final stages, and the production line is capable of producing some 120 to 150 million doses of the vaccine to cover the country’s needs.
The human trial of the vaccine will start in the next three days, he said. "To date, 60,000 people have called and enrolled for a vaccine test, and 30,000 of them met the conditions,” the official explained.
Of course, he continued, "in the first stage, we cannot accept more than 56 people, who must come from a variety of age, gender, region and ethnicity groups.”
In remarks on Sunday, Iran’s health minister said the country is capable of producing a coronavirus vaccine, calling on the researchers not to become disheartened and keep up their hard work.
"We will prove to the entire world that our domestically-produced vaccine is much better than vaccines produced elsewhere across the globe,” Saeed Namaki said.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials have assured people that attempts to produce domestic vaccines will in no way hamper efforts to import foreign brands.
President Hassan Rouhani has also assured people over vaccine supplies, saying last week that his administration is doing its utmost to deliver both domestic and foreign vaccine shots to people.
The country has moved neck-and-neck with the rest of the world, and even better than many countries, in trying to develop and manufacture an effective and safe vaccine for the disease, Rouhani said at a cabinet session on Wednesday.
On Monday, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said a unique door-to-door screening campaign with the participation of Basij forces has led to a fall in the number of coronavirus cases in Iran without the need for vaccine.
Major General Hussein Salami said the program, dubbed Martyr Soleimani Initiative, has resulted in a reduction of the COVID-19 cases in Iran.
The program, carried out in cooperation with the Health Ministry and Basij Force, reveals that Iran has discovered the formula for overcoming the pandemic, the commander said.
The program, which is unique in the world, is the centerpiece of the successful approach that has helped Iran achieve a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases without vaccine, he added.
Nearly one million patients have recovered from the coronavirus infection or have been discharged from hospitals across Iran.
The number of new COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths in Iran has declined constantly in recent days.