Iran says homegrown COVID-19 vaccine is in clinical trials

Iran's third homegrown vaccine for coronavirus is named after eliminated nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Elad Benari ,

COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine

Iranian health authorities announced on Tuesday that the country's third homegrown vaccine for coronavirus has reached the phase of clinical trials, The Associated Press reported.

Details about the production of the vaccine, however, remained slim.

Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, has so far imported foreign vaccines from Russia, China, India and Cuba to cover over 1.2 million people. However, concerns over its lagging pace of vaccinations have animated Iran's drive to develop locally produced vaccines as wealthier nations snap up the lion's share of vaccine doses worldwide.

Two other Iranian vaccines are also in the phase of clinical trials, with the most advanced, called Barekat, tested on 300 people so far, according to AP.

The government said 20,000 volunteers in the capital of Tehran and other cities will soon receive Iran's new vaccine, called Fakhra, which an official described to state-run media as being "100% safe," without providing any evidence or data to support the claim.

Earlier this week, the government launched a vaccine production factory it claims can make 3 million doses a day.

The Fakhra vaccine is named after chief Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed in a November attack that Iran blamed on Israel.

While Fakhrizadeh was known to lead the country's nuclear weapons program in the early 2000s, Iran has eulogized him as a leader of country's domestic coronavirus vaccine development drive.

Iran has for months wrestled with the worst outbreak in the Middle East of COVID-19.

In a clear sign of the scale of the outbreak, dozens of top officials have fallen ill. At least 30 lawmakers have tested positive in recent months and some have died.

High-profile deaths in Iran from the coronavirus include a member of the council advising the Ayatollah, a former ambassador, a newly-elected member of parliament, an adviser to Zarif and a re-elected member of parliament.