COVID-19 Vaccine Update | Iran says Pfizer vaccine batch expected from US benefactors
An unidentified group of U.S.-based philanthropists plans to send 150,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Iran within the coming weeks, Iranian media reported Monday, during a step that would bring the hardest-hit country within the Middle East closer to inoculating its citizens against the coronavirus.
Details remained scarce within the report by semiofficial Tasnim press agency . It quoted the chief of the country’s Red Crescent Society as saying he expects the vaccine created by American drug maker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech to be imported by Jan. 19 supported coordination with a gaggle of benefactors within the U.S.”
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Iran has struggled to stem the worst virus outbreak within the Middle East , which has infected over 1.2 million people and killed nearly 55,000.
Karim Hemmati, the Red Crescent director, said his organization plans to receive a further 1 million vaccine doses, which on Sunday the semiofficial Khabaronline.it news website reported would come from China. The vaccines are going to be offered to citizens freed from charge, Hemmati said.
Officials have said previously that importing the Pfizer vaccine, which must be shipped and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit), poses major logistical challenges for Iran.
Iran has signed up for COVAX, a world program designed to distribute coronavirus vaccines to participating countries no matter their wealth. It’s run partially by Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance. which says the U.S. Treasurys Office of Foreign Asset Control has already issued a license for Iran to require part. The U.S. Treasury has not reacted to Iran’s participation.
The chief of Iran’s financial institution , Abdolnasser Hemmati, told state TV last week that Iran had received approval to transfer a $244 million payment through an unnamed bank during a third country to get nearly 17 million doses of vaccines from COVAX. He didn’t provide further details, like which vaccine or how the cash would be sent. Under COVAX rules, Iran could at a maximum order enough doses to vaccinate half its 82 million people.
President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that Iran would refuse to form the COVAX payment through U.S. financial institutions for fear of confiscation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, political figures in Iran have pushed anti-American conspiracy theories about the spread of the virus and vaccine production, dismissing the prospect of U.S. assistance.
Who trusts you? Wherever you found our money you stole it,” Rouhani said.
He added that Iran wouldn’t participate in human trials of foreign-made vaccines, vowing to supply the country with imported and locally produced vaccines.
Iran’s homemade vaccine is thanks to enter a Phase 1 clinical test soon, enrolling 54 volunteers across the country to receive two shots, state-run IRNA press agency reported. Iran’s vaccine research has gained urgency as officials allege that heavy American sanctions will hamper the Islamic Republics mass inoculation efforts.