Iran will next week become the first country outside of Cuba to start producing one of the island's homegrown COVID-19 vaccines on an industrial scale, Cuban state-run media said on Wednesday.
The allies are under fierce U.S. sanctions that they say have long encumbered access to medicines and medical inputs, motivating them to be self-reliant. Both have produced a raft of experimental COVID-19 vaccines, some with patriotic names like Cuba's Soberana 2 - or Sovereign 2.
Preliminary Cuban data from late-phase clinical trials suggests Soberana 2 and its other most advanced COVID-19 vaccine Abdala are among the world's most efficient, with more than 90% efficacy, although critics say they will remain skeptical until it publishes the figures in international, peer-reviewed journals.
Iran's Pasteur Institute agreed earlier this year to collaborate with Cuba's Finlay Institute, which developed Soberana 2, to implement phase three clinical trials of the shot in the Islamic Republic, leading to its approval for emergency use early in July.