Iran starts trial of new homegrown vaccine

TEHRAN (AP) — Iran’s campaign to inoculate its population against the coronavirus and promote itself as an emerging vaccine manufacturer inched on as health authorities announced yesterday that the country’s third homegrown vaccine has reached the phase of clinical trials.

Details about its production, however, remained slim.

Although Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, has so far imported foreign vaccines from Russia, China, India and Cuba to cover over 1.2 million people, concerns over its lagging pace of vaccinations have animated Iran’s drive to develop locally produced vaccines as wealthier nations snap up the lion’s share of vaccine doses worldwide.

Iranian scientists, like elsewhere in the world, are rushing to condense the typically years long process to develop vaccines into a few months — a task that has acquired urgency as the country struggles to stem the worst virus outbreak in the Middle East and its economy reels from harsh American sanctions.

But details are scant about the Islamic Republic’s vaccine production efforts.