Iran's top leader bans coronavirus vaccines from US, Britain
(Sourced from PTI)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday banned the country from importing American Pfizer-BioNTech and Britain's AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, a reflection of mistrust toward the West. In a televised speech, he said the import of American and British vaccines were forbidden, referring to the surging death tolls from the virus in both the countries. Khamenei said that he does not trust those nations.
He added that sometimes the nations want to test their vaccines on other countries. He is not optimistic about France, either. However, he okayed the import of vaccines from other safe places and remains supportive of Iran's efforts toward producing a vaccine. The country began testing its vaccines on humans in December. The product is expected to hit the local market in spring.
Hardliners in Iran have long opposed US-made vaccines. Iran's Revolutionary Guard in December rejected the use of foreign-made vaccines altogether. General Mohammad Reza Naghdi said the Guard does not recommend the injection of any foreign vaccine candidates based on genetic material known as messenger RNA, which carries the instructions for cells to make proteins.
Authorities have said that the US-based benefactors plan to deploy scores of thousands of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Iran. Notably, Iran retains routes to vaccines despite sanctions, including through its participation in COVAX, an initiative to ensure that a vaccine is made available to everyone in need. Meanwhile, international banks and financial institutions are reluctant to deal with Iran for fear of American penalties.