The jointly produced Cuban-Iranian Covid jab, PastoCoVac, has been added to Tehran’s public vaccination drive as the Islamic Republic tries to ramp up its inoculation rates as a defense against the virus.

On Monday, the head of the Iranian Food and Drug Administration, Mohammad Reza Shanehsaz, shared that “the first batch of six million doses of the PastoCoVac vaccine was released and distributed.”

It was developed jointly by the Pasteur Institute of Iran and Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute.The two-dose shot was greenlighted for children aged between 2-18 last month, with the head of Pasteur Institute Alireza Biglari claiming that it is one of the safest vaccines on offer for minors.

Shanehsaz said Tehran hopes the number of shots will increase and that more doses becoming available is “subject to agreement” between the two institutes, which “have promised to increase production.”

From late October to the end of November, the organization anticipates that it will receive 10 million jabs, “some of which are produced jointly in Iran and Finlay and some fully produced in Iran,” the Iranian medical regulator chief said.

The Iranian-Cuban vaccine, also known as Soberana-02 in Cuba, has been heralded by the Tehran Times as being “one of the most successful vaccines in the whole world.” Havana said that the two-shot jab, when combined with the booster jab Soberana Plus, had proven to be 91.2% effective against coronavirus.

In August, when the Islamic Republic was struggling to battle a fifth wave of coronavirus infections fueled by the more contagious Delta variant, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged more national attention to be devoted to the country’s Covid vaccination production, as well as to greater imports of international jabs.

Khamenei opted in June to get vaccinated with COVIran Barakat, which boasts a reported efficacy of 90%, after expressing his desire to wait to be inoculated with a home-grown vaccine, rather than use foreign shots.

Earlier this year, the supreme leader banned vaccine imports from the UK and US due to a lack of trust, as the two Western powers had some of the world’s highest mortality rates.

According to data from the World Health Organization, almost 52 million vaccine doses have been administered across the Islamic republic, while just over 15.6 million people are fully vaccinated across the 83-million strong population.

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