Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banned U.S. and U.K. imports of the COVID-19 vaccine suggesting the vaccines may be an attempt to infect other nations, in a televised speech Friday.
“Imports of U.S. and British vaccines into the country are forbidden…They’re completely untrustworthy. It’s not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations,” said Khamenei.
Iran is supposedly attempting to manufacture its own vaccine; however, its progress is far behind the fully developed vaccines made available by the U.S. and U.K.
Iran has had over 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 56,000 deaths, making it the hardest hit country in the Middle East.
“If the Americans had managed to manufacture a vaccine, this coronavirus fiasco wouldn’t have happened in their own country. If they can create a vaccine, if their Pfizer factory can manufacture a vaccine, then why do they want to give it to us? They should consume it themselves so they wouldn’t have so many deaths,” said Khamenei.
“The regime wants to destroy its people,” a man from inside Iran who asked not to be identified said in an interview with The Foreign Desk.
“They say they do not have the money to buy vaccines due to the crippling sanctions but yet they have millions to send to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to other terrorist groups in the region.”
Iran’s vaccine ban will prevent the transfer of 150,000 Pfizer vaccine doses donated by U.S. philanthropists, according to the Iranian Red Crescent Society.
Senior advisor to the WHO’s director general is urging countries “to put any kind of politics aside and make sure that vaccines get to the people that need them.”
In August 2020, a BBC investigation discovered Iran’s death toll was nearly three times what was publicly reported, indicating that current COVID-19 data released by the Iranian government likely does not accurately reflect the magnitude of Iran’s case load and fatalities.