TEHRAN (Iran News) –Iran was the first country to acquire the knowledge of producing a vaccine against the coronavirus, Reza A’alizadeh, the innovator of the vaccine COVIRAN Barkat, told the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.
On February 4, 2020, when China was struggling with this disease and had not yet entered Iran, my colleague Asghar Abdoli and I decided to study the newly-emerged virus and tried to understand its structure.
Of course, at that time, the only available document was the structure of the coronavirus released by China in global databases and the scientific backgrounds that were published about the previous strains, including SARS and MERS.
On March 28, the first case of the infection was confirmed in Iran when we started our work, he said, adding, after the investigations, we came to the conclusion that a vaccine can be developed.
Iran was the first country to acquire the knowledge of making a vaccine against the global pandemic.So, we went into the lab and tested multiple samples to find the best virus sample to isolate and purify. In mid-April, we managed to produce a sample of the vaccine candidate and entered the animal phase.
We conducted the pre-clinical trial on laboratory animals such as mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, and monkeys, we realized the effectiveness of the vaccine and decided to industrialize the existing vaccine candidate, he explained.
Then we were looking for a place to mass produce this vaccine, unfortunately, the biggest challenge we faced was the lack of proper infrastructure for the killed vaccine platform in the country.
Therefore, we fell behind in the stage of mass production. Just when we had access to the vaccine candidate, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates were still undergoing animal studies, and we lagged behind other countries due to the lack of industrial infrastructure for vaccine production.
In fact, Iran was the first country to acquire the knowledge of making a vaccine against the global pandemic, because when we made the vaccine sample, China announced that the Sinovac vaccine was under construction using an inactive virus.
At that time, we talked to the Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam, and they started to create the infrastructure, and within six months, the infrastructure was built from scratch at Shafa Farmed Company.
The first clinical phase started on December 29, 2020, and after completing the clinical phases, it also obtained an emergency license, which was very effective compared to foreign vaccines, he said.
When we were checking the platforms, we were thinking of choosing the closest way to the destination.
And we came to the conclusion that our people prefer a vaccine that has a history of use. That’s why we worked on the killed vaccine.
For example, the polio vaccine is a vaccine that has both killed and live attenuated vaccines and has been used by a large number of people in Iran, and its side effects are less and better known.
But nevertheless, we were so innovative in this method that it was as if the killed vaccine was made in a new way, he stated.
Another generation is recombinant or protein vaccines. These are vaccines that take the gene of a part of the virus and express it in another cell and then formulate and inject it with an adjuvant, including, PastoCovac, Spicogen, Covo Pars, Novavax, and Noora.
Third-generation vaccines are also vaccines that are based on another virus, such as adenoviruses, which one of the vaccination groups in Iran worked on. This vaccine is used for the first time in human history. Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Sputnik vaccines are the third generations.
The fourth type of vaccine is based on genes. In this gene model, a part of the virus that has pathogenic properties or an important part of the virus in binding or entering the host’s body is formulated in a gene carrier such as RNA or DNA and introduced into the human body. This model is the first time that it has entered public vaccination.
Vaccine production crossroad to scientific progress
Elsewhere in his remarks, he referred to the scientific importance of vaccines, noting that vaccine production is along the road to scientific progress, in the heart of which all sciences progress, from industrial sciences to biological sciences and pharmaceuticals, as well as medical sciences, and humanities.
“We overcame the industrial lag of previous years in one year to make the corona vaccine, which compensated for this lag in health technology and pushed it miles ahead,” he added.
It took a month until we were able to offer Barkat Plus from the day the Omicron strain was announced in Iran. This shows that our technical knowledge is up to date and this means progress.
Stating why there was no single vaccine manufacturer in Iran and the manufacturers did not gather to make a vaccine, he said that at that time, 19 groups were working on vaccine production and this was a big event.
Because the more different platforms and methods are tested, the more infrastructure will be produced and the best methods will become a science. So, it was scientific progress and this is a matter of pride.
Anyway, the country needed to acquire the technical knowledge of various vaccine production platforms, which were updated during the corona outbreak.
Leader gave confidence to our young technologists
The first person who injected this vaccine was me and my colleague because we believe that what we have made should be tested on ourselves first so that if there is a danger, the dear people of the country will not be harmed and dear Iranians trust the national vaccine, he noted.
Pointing to the decision of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to inject the Barkat vaccine, A’alizadeh said that in all his speeches in the field of elites and technologies, the Leader has always praised the support of Iranian elites’ products and has stated that “I will not fail to defend the elite society and the scientific movement of the country as long as I breathe.”
His work was a very big step in the advancement of the Barkat vaccine and gave confidence to the country’s young technologists. It is hoped that other officials of the country will also put this procedure at the top of their agenda, he added.
Articles in prestigious international Journals
In October 2021, an article on the pre-clinical and technical knowledge of COVIRAN Barkat was published in the prestigious international Journal of Medical Virology.
An article on the first two clinical trial phases of COVIRAN also was published in “BMJ Open”, a leading multidisciplinary medical journal.
However, the study of the third phase of the vaccine is on the path to publication and will soon be in international journals.
- source : Tehrantimes