Iran's Supreme Leader Forgoes Western COVID Vaccines, Takes One Made in Country Instead

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is forgoing Western-made COVID-19 vaccines and received the first ever vaccine manufactured in his country instead, according to a state TV report Friday.

Khamenei was vaccinated with Iran's pharmaceutical company Shifafarmed's COVIran Barekat vaccine. It was approved last week through emergency use authorization. Doses from the U.S. and the U.K. were banned by Khamenei in January, according to the Associated Press.

Khamenei declined inoculation from a foreign-made vaccine because he wanted to "wait for the Iranian vaccine because we have to be proud of this national honor," he said.

Iran said the country's vaccine is about 85 percent effective against the virus despite not publishing data to support the claim. Meanwhile, the nation recorded 10,820 new cases of COVID-19 over the day into Friday, according to Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wears a face mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as he stands after casting his ballot, on June 18 on the day of the Islamic republic's presidential election. Khamenei was vaccinated with an Iranian-made vaccine and declined to take a Western-made one. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Khamenei's banned imports of the American and Britain vaccines reflects mistrust toward the West.

The COVIran Barekat vaccine is based on deactivated virus, and the first study of the safety and effectiveness began in late December.

The emergency authorization was approved after the country, which is the worst-hit nation in the Middle East, faced problems importing enough vaccines.

Iranian officials said the death toll from COVID-19 rose by 115 over the day into Friday, putting the country's total at 83,588 since the pandemic broke out last year.

Lari said the country's total cases is 3,150,949.

At least 1,397 people remained hospitalized with the virus, she added.

Lari said 3,219 of the patients are in serious condition, and 2,809,595 have recovered so far. Iran remains among the hardest-hit countries in the world.

Iran has also said it is working on a vaccine with cooperation from a foreign country. Iranian authorities said that another vaccine, produced jointly by Iran and Cuba, will join the country's vaccine package in coming days.

Iran's local vaccine research has gained urgency as officials allege that heavy American sanctions will hamper the Islamic Republic's mass inoculation efforts.