TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran’s Health Ministry said the country expected to receive 250,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on Saturday.
Alireza Raisi, deputy health minister, said the country would receive doses of other vaccines, including from India, in the "near future” as the country struggles to fight the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East.
This month, Iran imported 120,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia. Reports have said Iran has purchased a total of 2 million doses.
Iran in December began human trials on the first vaccine manufactured in the country, which is expected to be distributed in the spring. The country is also working on a joint vaccine with Cuba.
Iran plans to import some 17 million doses of vaccine from the international COVAX program and millions more from individual countries.
Speaking at a meeting with clerics in Qom on Friday night, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said Iran will be importing the AstraZeneca vaccine made in South Korea.
He said the vaccine has been developed under a joint research project and is being produced in 12 sites across the world. The minister also noted that Iran has begun to vaccinate the elderly at nursing homes.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari put Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 at 59,980 after 81 more died from the disease since Friday. Lari said 7,975 new confirmed cases have brought the total to more than 1.6 million in a country with a population of more than 83 million.
The Iranian government will keep the coronavirus restrictions in place during the new year holidays to avert a new wave of the pandemic, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday.
Addressing a meeting of the Coronavirus Fight National Headquarters, the president said people will have to observe the health protocols and abide by strict restrictions during the upcoming Nowruz holidays at the beginning of spring.
Rouhani stressed the need to mobilize efforts to prevent the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Iran, saying it is necessary to step up control and monitoring and increase the number of tests for early detection of infection.
"Today, the administration has focused its efforts on the purchase of vaccine. We will supply as much vaccine as we can,” Rouhani added.
The Health Ministry has formulated plans to restrict travels during the Nowruz holidays, which will begin on March 21. People have been advised to stay home and exercise caution as a new strain of COVID-19, first found in the UK, is spreading in Iran.