Iran is ready to move to human trials for a locally produced coronavirus vaccine, according to the country’s health minister.
“We have passed the vaccine tests on animals and are ready to enter the human trial phase,” Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki was quoted as telling his Iraqi counterpart in a conversation Friday, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Namaki said Iran would try and buy international vaccines as soon as they were ready but was also developing a home-grown shot.
He promised to share it with Iraq as soon as it was ready.
Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 has so far passed 22,000 out of 382,772 confirmed cases. The country has had the first and worst outbreak in the region.
Iran last week opened the new school year after nearly seven months of closure.
In a video conference, President Hassan Rouhani said the education of 15 million students is as important as the health system.
“Education will not be closed in our country even under the worst situation,” he said, urging authorities to implement health measures in schools to the level of those in military garrisons.
The reopening of schools came as many expressed concern over a possible increase in infections, including medical professionals.
Dozens of coronavirus vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world.
Oxford University announced Saturday it was resuming a trial for a coronavirus vaccine it is developing with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, a move that comes days after the study was suspended following a reported side-effect in a UK patient.
The vaccine being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca is widely perceived to be one of the strongest contenders.
Two other vaccines are in huge, final-stage tests in the United States, one made by Moderna Inc. and the other by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
Scientists and others around the world, including experts at the World Health Organization, have sought to keep a lid on expectations of an imminent breakthrough for coronavirus vaccines, stressing that vaccine trials are rarely straightforward.