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Iranian President-Elect Pledges To Ramp Up COVID-19 Vaccination Program

Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi

Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi has said the rapid expansion of the COVID-19 vaccination program will be among his government's top priorities in order to get the country's economy moving again.

"The quickest general vaccination…will be among our immediate programs from the first day of the government," Raisi said in nationally televised live remarks from the northeastern city of Mashhad on June 22.

Raisi said the program will use both domestically and foreign-produced vaccines "so that people will feel at ease and the economy will flourish."

Iran is producing three vaccines domestically, including Russia’s Sputnik V and a new vaccine being developed jointly with Cuba.

Additionally, this week Iranians began receiving shots of the COVIran Barakat vaccine, which was developed by an Iranian state corporation. Iranian state media said more than one million doses of Barakat have already been produced.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 82,000 people in Iran, with over 3 million infected, according to official figures widely seen as understating the toll.

The government of outgoing President Hassan Rohani has been criticized for being slow to roll out vaccines and has said its efforts were hampered by purchasing difficulties caused by U.S. sanctions.

Raisi, who was elected president on June 19, will take office in August.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Press TV