Both allied countries are under heavy sanctions from the United States, which exempt drugs but in practice deter foreign drug companies from trading in them. Havana and Tehran also have liquidity problems.
Iran launched human trials of its first national candidate vaccine for COVID-19 late last month, while Cuba has four in testing.
Once its most advanced candidate, Sovereign 02, has completed Phase II tests that began on December 22, it will be tested on around 150,000 people on the island, authorities reported.
However, the Caribbean country needs to conduct human tests abroad because it does not have a high infection rate, due to successful management of the outbreak, health authorities said. Iran has been the worst affected country in the Middle East.
The state-run Finlay Vaccine Institute of Cuba said that it signed the agreement with the Pasteur Institute of Iran to collaborate in the tests of Sovereign 02.
“They are two countries that have made a great effort for their populations in the midst of the pandemic and therefore accelerate the development that allows us to have preventive vaccines (…) it is really strategic for both,” he said after signing, its director, Vicente Vérez.
In addition to developing its own vaccine, Iran participates in the COVAX scheme that aims to ensure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for the poorest countries. Tehran on Friday banned importing COVID-19 vaccines from the United States and Britain, labeling Western powers as “untrustworthy.”
Cuba has not talked about importing vaccines from other countries and said it intends to begin vaccinating its population against COVID-19 with its own injection in the first half of this year.