Following the Rahbar Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s televised announcement on January 8 that Iran should not import Covid-19 vaccines from the US or UK, the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) the same day cancelled the import of American Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.
Iran had already paid, through a complicated financial process because of illegal US sanctions, for 150,000 doses of Pfizer-manufactured Covid-19 vaccines.
The Rahbar said he had no confidence in vaccines produced by the two Western powers (US & UK).
“If the Americans had managed to manufacture a vaccine, this coronavirus fiasco wouldn’t have happened in their own country,” he said, adding that the US is now registering a daily death toll of 4,000 people.
As of 12 noon (New York time) today, the US has registered 22,935,771 cases of infections and 383,461 deaths, by far the highest in the world.
“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,” the Rahbar said.
He said the same applied to Britain.
The Rahbar was emphatic: he did not trust the US or the UK: they may wish to test out their vaccines on other people.
After the Rahbar’s televised address, the Iranian Red Crescent Society announced: “The import of 150,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine [developed by] Pfizer Inc from the US to Iran… is cancelled,” the IRCS spokesman Mohammad Hassan Qosian Moqaddam told IRNA on Friday(Jan 08).
The Rahbar’s rejection of US or UK-manufactured vaccines is based on bitter experience of the past.
In the early 1990s, Iran imported blood from France.
It turned out to be HIV-infected.
Unknown to them and not suspecting that France would send HIV-contaminated blood, Iranian doctors administered this to patients.
Hundreds of Iranians were infected by the tainted blood and Tehran never received any compensation.
The Rahbar stressed that the government was allowed to import the vaccine from other reliable sources.
The IRCS had earlier announced plans to buy one million doses of a vaccine from China.
Similarly, the government is trying to secure 16.8 million doses of vaccines from COVAX, a global vaccine effort operating under the World Health Organization.
In his televised speech on Friday, the Rahbar praised the efforts of Iranian scientists to manufacture vaccines in Iran, saying they are a source of “pride”.
Tehran launched the human trials of its first vaccine candidate, COVIran Barekat, on December 29, 2020.
Iran has several other vaccines, all of which are expected to clear animal trials before the end of February 2021.
While badly affected by the coronavirus, Iran has gamely struggled to contain the virus.
America’s illegal sanctions have had a disastrous effect on its economy and prevented the country from accessing vital medicines.
By rejecting the US and UK-manufactured vaccines, Iran is sending a clear message that it does not want to be used as an experimental ground for untested vaccines.
Instead, it is working to prepare its own vaccines as well as import from more reliable sources.
Iran’s top leadership always has the interests of its people at heart, unlike the US where politicians use people to advance their own nefarious agendas.
The case of Donald Trump using people for his own criminal activities is a case in point.