A joint scheme between Iran and Russia to mass produce Russia’s signature coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V is to begin in Iran this month, according to a senior official in the country’s health ministry.
Kianoush Jahanpour, who serves as spokesman of Iran’s food and drug authority, said on Wednesday that Sputnik V production in Iran will begin before the current calendar year ends in the country on March 20.
Jahanpour said that the manufacturing will take place in the facilities of an Iranian pharmaceutical company, adding that first batches of the vaccine will be available in late April.
He said Iran and Russia will produce between 36 million and 40 million doses of Sputnik V in Iran within the next 12 months.
Iran has taken delivery of more than 500,000 doses of Sputnik V from Russia to inoculate health care workers and the vulnerable as part of a first phase of its coronavirus vaccination drive.
Tehran and Moscow have agreed on joint manufacturing of the vaccine inside Iran mainly to increase supplies of the jab to countries in the Middle East region.
Iran has other local and international vaccine candidates to scale up its nationwide immunization program against the coronavoirus.
Jahanpour repeated previous statements by government officials about the availability of locally-produced vaccines in the near future, saying a major jab being jointly developed by Iran and Cuba,, known as Pasteur vaccine, will start its mass trial in the coming weeks.
Officials have said that Pasteur vaccine will be available for injections in late April or in early May.
Jahanpour said Iran will become a major producer and even exporter of coronavirus vaccines within the next three months.