Iran's ambassador to Moscow says Tehran has signed a contract with Russia to purchase 60 million doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
Kazem Jalali told the state-run IRNA news agency on April 15 that the deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, would provide enough shots to fully vaccinate 30 million people.
Jalali said 60 million doses would be sent to Iran between June and December.
He added that so far two Iranian companies have signed a contract with Russia for the joint production of vaccines in Iran.
Sputnik V, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, overcame international skepticism in February after peer-reviewed results published in the medical journal The Lancet showed it to be safe and 91.6 percent effective against COVID-19. Sputnik V is a vector vaccine based on the human adenovirus, which causes the common cold.
Iran is struggling to stem a new wave of COVID-19 infections, with the coronavirus killing one person every four minutes in the country, state TV reported on April 15. The country of 83 million people has recorded a total of 65,680 coronavirus-related deaths and more than 2.1 million infections since the pandemic began.
Authorities imposed a 10-day lockdown on April 10 across most of the country to curb the spread of a fourth wave of the coronavirus, triggered in part by people ignoring health protocols during a two-week public holiday for Norouz, the Persian New Year.
In some cities, hospitals are inundated with the sick and running out of beds.
Businesses, restaurants, schools, and other public institutions have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy month of Ramadan.
Iran is testing a homemade vaccine that may be ready for distribution in the spring. The country has also began working on a joint vaccine with Cuba. It is also planning to import some 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under COVAX, an international collaboration to deliver the vaccine equitably across the world. COVAX delivered its first shipment of 700,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses this week.
With reporting by AP, IRNA, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036