Iran has received the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine created by Indian pharmaceutical company COVAXIN. IRNA agency previously reported that "the vaccine shipment will arrive from India at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport and contains 125,000 doses", as confirmed by deputy customs chief Mehrdad Jamal Arvanaghi.
Public Relations Minister Kianoush Jahanpour announced on Twitter that Iran is in its second month of a vaccination campaign and will receive 375,000 doses from India next week. Last week, a supply of 400,000 injections of the Bharat Biotech vaccine, COVAXIN, was agreed and will arrive over the next two weeks.
In total, the country will import 1 million doses, the National Coronavirus Headquarters announced. "The cumulative number of vaccine doses delivered from Russia, China and India to immunise vulnerable groups will increase to 1 million," Alireza Raisi, spokesman for the headquarters, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The country purchased a total of 2 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Jahanpour said. "From 36 to 40 million doses of Sputnik V will be produced and distributed this year," he was quoted as saying on the government's website.
He also said in televised remarks that Iran will receive the first batch of AstraZeneca's COVAX vaccines in the next three weeks. "By the end of March, 1.1 million injections under COVAX will arrive in the country, increasing the total doses to 2 million," he added.
Earlier in the day, an official at Iran's Food and Drug Administration said Tehran will receive 3.12 million injections shipped by South Korea's AstraZeneca before the end of the year.
COVAX is a vaccine exchange programme backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines to the poorest countries. The vaccine shipment began at the end of February, with the first deliveries to Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. They pledged to deliver 237 million doses to 142 countries.
Tehran began vaccination on 9 February and despite using multiple sources, they have not announced how many people have been immunised. Raisi made sure there were no concerns about rapid vaccination as "the country's health network has the capacity to vaccinate 20 million people a month".
However, the country has lost more than 61,000 lives and has 1.7 million cases of COVID-19, according to figures provided by the health ministry.