Iranian officials claimed Sunday that Iran will begin mass-producing a homegrown coronavirus vaccine within the next month, delivering up to 3.5 million doses by the end of June and 50 million by the end of September.
Mohammad Mokhber, the head of Iran’s coronavirus response committee, said that Iran’s “COVIran Barekat” vaccine is entering production even as it begins Phase III human trials, and doses will soon be delivered to the Iranian Health Ministry. By the end of the summer, the Iranian government claimed it expects to be manufacturing 20 million doses a month.
The head of the Pasteur Institute of Iran, Alireza Biglari, said Monday that 24,000 patients in Iran are receiving Barekat shots during the Phase III trials.
The first two phases were held in Cuba, whose Finlay Institute co-developed Barekat. According to Biglari, “very few side effects” were observed in the Cuban trials.
Phase III ceremonially began at the Eram Grand Hotel in Tehran on Sunday, with a member of the development team receiving one of the first shots to demonstrate confidence that “the Berekat vaccine is safe and efficient.”
Iran claims Barekat is 90 percent effective — significantly more effective than the vaccine candidates from China — and works against the “British variant” of the coronavirus, reportedly the most common strain of Chinese coronavirus in Iran.
Iranian officials are the only source of these alleged results from the clinical trials; no independent scientific organizations have tested the vaccine candidate or been granted the ability to study the alleged results from clinical trials.
Iran claims it has three other vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials; one of them is named “Fakhra” in honor of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the nuclear scientist Iran says was killed by Israeli intelligence agents with a remote-controlled gun in February. Iran is also reportedly working on joint vaccine projects with Russia and Australia.
Iran is facing its worst coronavirus wave yet, which President Hassan Rouhani claims is due to the “British variant” entering Iran through Iraq.
Although state media demanded recognition for Iran as a “pioneer in Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] vaccine development,” as the Tehran Times put it, Iran’s medical misadventures do not inspire confidence in the regime’s ability to create an effective product. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the theocratic wing of the Iranian military and a designated terrorist organization, claimed to have created a coronavirus vaccine as far back as March 2020. The IRGC boasted it would “astonish the world” by beating all other parties to a cure.
The IRGC has yet to mention its alleged vaccine since that time. It later attempted to sell an alleged “magnetic coronavirus detector” as a novel invention created by the jihadists in its ranks, but also ceased to advertise that product after popular mockery.
Medical experts and human rights activists were outraged when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banned imported vaccines from the United States and Britain in January, leaving his subjects with only the less effective shots provided by China and Russia. This edict was soon followed by another Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian, instructing his followers to avoid coronavirus vaccines in general because people who received inoculations “have become homosexuals.”
This week’s announcement regarding the joint Iran-Cuba vaccine candidate did not state if any of the clinical trial subjects had changed sexual orientation after receiving experimental doses of the product. Tabrizian has not, at press time, condemned the homemade Iranian product for causing such an effect as he did with the international vaccine candidates.
When Iranian coronavirus cases surged in April, Rouhani blamed the United States for depriving his government of the funds needed to buy the vaccines Khamenei didn’t ban, even as the regime splurged lavishly on nuclear weapons research, missile bases, and foreign military adventures.