Iran says to wait for WHO approval on Russia vaccine



This photo, taken August 12th, shows the pharmaceutical factory Binnofarm in Zelenograd, outside Moscow, where Russia is starting to produce a coronavirus vaccine. [Alexander Nemenov/AFP]

Iran said Tuesday (August 18th) it would wait for World Health Organisation (WHO) approval before buying a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine Russia unveiled last week.

Russia said August 11th it had developed the world's first vaccine offering "sustainable immunity" against COVID-19 and was in the final stage of human trials.

This comes despite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness, as global fears grow over a second wave of infections.

Iran has struggled to contain the Middle East's worst outbreak of the virus since announcing its first cases in February.

"We are waiting for the international community, including WHO, (before) we buy the vaccine from Russia," said Alireza Zali, a member of Iran's anti-COVID task force.

"In order for the vaccine to be used, genuine and independent organisations such as WHO must comment on it and approve it, which has not happened yet," he told a news conference in Tehran.

"After scientific approval... we will negotiate with Russia to get the vaccine," said Zali, who oversees efforts against the virus in the Iranian capital.

His remarks came as health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced another 168 coronavirus fatalities in the past 24 hours, taking Iran's overall death toll to 19,972.

She also reported another 2,385 new cases of infection over the same period, taking the total number in the country to 347,835.

Iran has faced criticism for its handling of the pandemic.

The Islamic Republic also has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories about the virus and of contributing to its spread early on by failing to implement quarantines and continuing to allow Mahan Air to fly to China.

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All the affairs of this Islamic Republic [of Iran] are in line with one another. And, they want to purchase these vaccines from a master scam artist! Perhaps, they are going to sell them distilled water instead of vaccines. In those early days, the government officials took all the [corona virus] diagnostic kits for themselves... I do not think Russia has a vaccine. This is merely a propaganda. As for the World Health Organization, it has shown its very best up until this day [sarcasm intended]. The World Health Organization's approval has no credibility. Eventually, it appears that the Chinese virus is going to stay.