Iran received the first consignment of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Sinopharm on Sunday, as the country surpassed 60,000 deaths from the pandemic.
The cargo of 250,000 doses of the vaccine, donated by China, was handed over to the Health Ministry, officials said.
Iran is presently on the verge of a fourth wave of the pandemic with a spike in new cases in recent weeks in some provinces.
The UK variant of coronavirus has also spread across the country, with health officials sounding the alarm and calling for strict compliance with health protocols.
The country has faced difficulties in importing foreign vaccines due to US sanctions, which have been compounded by a ban imposed on US-and UK-made vaccines by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Kianoush Jahanpour, spokesman of the country’s food and drug administration, hailed the Chinese government’s vaccine donation as “admirable”.
“This act and those similar to it by the government of China are admirable and will remain in the memory of the Iranian nation,” he told state TV.
Earlier this month, Iran had imported the Sputnik-V vaccine from Russia, which was administered to healthcare workers and other high-risk groups in the first phase of the rollout.
Iran also has plans to import some 17 million doses of vaccine from the WHO’s COVAX channel beside countries like India and South Korea, in addition to co-producing a vaccine with Cuba.
Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi on Sunday confirmed that the country is expected to receive vaccines from countries including India, in the “near future”.
Iran is also racing to produce a homegrown vaccine. Two vaccines manufactured by domestic knowledge-based firms have already passed the human trial phase, expected to be ready by summer.
The country, which reported its first cases of the virus in February last year, has so far recorded over 1.6 million cases.
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