Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Iran, despite sanctions, has routes to vaccines

Iran, despite sanctions, has routes to vaccines

DUBAI- Although Iran faces crushing U.S. sanctions, there are still ways for Tehran to obtain coronavirus vaccines as the country suffers the Mideast’s worst outbreak of the pandemic.
After earlier downplaying the virus, Iran has since acknowledged the scope of the disaster it faces after 1.1 million reported cases and over 52,000 deaths. Getting vaccines into the arms of its people would be a major step in stemming the crisis.
But while Iran is able to obtain vaccines, challenges remain ranging from sanctions imposed under President Donald Trump to the logistics of making mass vaccinations happen.
Iran has signed up for COVAX, an international program designed to distribute coronavirus vaccines to participating countries around the world. That program is run in part by Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance. Gavi says the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control has already issued a license for Iran to take part. The Treasury declined to comment.
For its part, Iran has alleged U.S. sanctions have affected its ability to purchase medicine and vaccines. President Hassan Rouhani has said Iranians “should curse Trump a hundred times” over the difficulties. U.S. sanctions do have specific carve-outs for medicine and humanitarian aid to Iran. However, international banks and financial institutions hesitate in dealing with Iran transactions for fear of being fined or locked out of the American market.
Those sanctions, however, would not stop Iran from flying a load of cash to Geneva to pay for its participation in COVAX. Gavi declined to offer any information about Iranian payments or orders, though Iran under its rules at a maximum could order vaccines for 50% of its 82 million people.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman at Iran’s mission to the United Nations, criticized the U.S. for its sanctions and banking restrictions, which he said “cruelly put many obstacles in the way of Iran receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Nonetheless, along with our own indigenous vaccine trials, we fully expect the international community and the relevant international drug companies to fulfill their humanitarian obligation and expedite all our orders,” Miryousefi said.
Local efforts to produce a vaccine have not begun in earnest, meaning the Islamic Republic may need to rely on those abroad. (AP)