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9 Feb, 2021 10:59

Iran begins immunization campaign with freshly delivered Russian Sputnik V vaccine

Iran begins immunization campaign with freshly delivered Russian Sputnik V vaccine

Iran, which has had the deadliest Covid-19 outbreak in the Middle East, has begun vaccinating its citizens. The US-sanctioned nation is using Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, the first batch of which was delivered to Tehran last week.

The vaccination campaign in Iran was launched on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by President Hassan Rouhani. Medics working in Covid-19 wards will be given top immunization priority. The son of Health Minister Saeed Namaki was the first Iranian to receive the jab.

“People should be assured that if a vaccine is imported to the country, all officials trust it,” Rouhani said as he explained the intended optics of the minister’s son taking the jab at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran. Other people immunized during the televised ceremony, which was held simultaneously in over 600 hospitals throughout the country, were doctors and nurses.

Iran authorized the use of Sputnik V in late January. The first shipment of some 10,000 doses of the drug arrived in Tehran last Thursday, while two more deliveries are expected throughout February. The Iranian Health Ministry plans to start with about 1,000 vaccinations a day and ramp up the effort as more doses are available.

Iranian officials also said the country will get vaccines through the UN's vaccine-sharing program, COVAX. According to some reports, some of those shipments will be of the UK-made AstraZeneca product. If true, this would go against Iran’s public refusal – announced last month by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – to deploy “untrustworthy” vaccines produced by the US and the UK.

Also on rt.com Tehran to use Russian, Chinese, Indian & own vaccines, while US jabs are rejected due to ‘lack of trust’ – Iranian FM to RT

Iran is among the countries hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, recording well over 13,000 daily cases during a peak in November and losing close to 60,000 lives so far to the infection. The death toll has made the Iranian outbreak the deadliest in the Middle East in both absolute and per capita numbers.

Tehran said crippling economic sanctions imposed against it by the US, which prevented it from purchasing medical supplies and getting humanitarian aid, were a major factor exacerbating the damage.

Also on rt.com Sputnik V prepares for EU launch: Russian Covid-19 vaccine clears 1st hurdle for roll-out as regulator EMA accepts application

The pioneering Russian vaccine, which is officially named ‘Gam-COVID-Vac’, has an efficacy of 91.6 percent, according to a study published in the magazine Lancet this month. Over 20 governments have authorized its emergency use, according to its website, if you include the Palestinian Authority and the government of Republika Srpska, which is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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