An Iranian deputy transportation minister says the country has officially begun preparations for the transfer and storage of vaccines needed to battle the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Shahram Adamnejad said on Tuesday that works had started to set up special storage houses in an Iranian airport to take delivery of COVID-19 vaccines that need to be stored in ultra-cold freezers.
“Assisted by two airlines, we are getting ready to take delivery of the vaccines and transfer them into the country,” Adamnejad told the official IRNA news agency without elaborating on the name of the Iranian airlines that will be responsible for vaccine transportation.
Iranian government has announced that it will place orders for vaccines developed by major international pharmaceutical companies while it pursues its own plans to develop a home-made vaccine to tackle COVID-19.
Two of the three major vaccines that have shown promise in global trials, namely those developed by American companies Pfizer and Moderna Inc, will need very low temperatures for storage.
It is not clear whether Iran has secured doses of the vaccines or it will wait until they get final regulatory approval in the US and other countries.
damnejad said setting up airport facilities for storage of the vaccines will take at least 20 days, adding that the Iranian health ministry would decide on when the actual imports will take place.
The official rejected reports that Iran would need foreign assistance to import the vaccines mainly because US sanctions have left many planes in need of modern equipment, including special freezers needed for storage of such products.
“There are many solutions that we can use to successfully and correctly import the vaccines into the country with the minimum cost and using this old (aviation) fleet,” said Adamnejad.
Iran has seen one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection rates in the Middle East with nearly a million people tested positive for the virus since it was first spotted in the country in late February.