Iran is set to start administering coronavirus vaccine jabs next week, reported its Health Ministry on Sunday.
“The vaccinations will begin on Tuesday, first for doctors and care personnel and then for citizens aged 65 and up,’’ said Health Minister, Said Namaki.
After that, it will be a “step by step” process until the entire population of 83 million is vaccinated, he said in comments to the ISNA news agency.
The first jabs will use the Sputnik V vaccine provided by Russia.
Half a million doses were delivered on Thursday, with more set to arrive in the coming weeks.
The vaccination drive had been set to start either at the end of February or in early March, but the timetable was pulled forward so that it could start 24 hours before the 42nd anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Namaki said the country will only use foreign-developed vaccines that have been internationally recognised and approved for use, and which have begun to be used elsewhere.
The country is working on its own vaccines, but it could be weeks or months until they’re approved.
Iran’s leaders have argued that they do not want to use vaccines developed in the West.
However, the fact that Iran has been one of the countries hit hardest by the disease means it is under pressure to provide treatment quickly.
However, Namaki also said that he’s not sure how much good all the vaccines being rolled out internationally will do.
“The global fight against COVID-19 is like a chess game whose ending we cannot see,’’ he said.