COVID-19 vaccine procurement process hampered owing to US sanctions, says Iran official
The US sanctions on Iran are hampering the country’s ability to procure the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX initiative, which is being co-led by GAVI and the World Health Organisation (WHO), an official in Tehran said on Monday. Abdolnasser Hemmati, the Governor of Iran’s Central Bank, said that the “inhumane” US sanctions on the Islamic Republic are causing capital transfer issues as banks are unwilling to convert their money into dollars.
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‘Money transfer issue’
According to Bloomberg, Hemmati alleged that billions of Iranian money are stuck in South Korean accounts as US banks are refusing to convert their won into dollars. Hemmati said that the dollars will then be converted into Euros to procure vaccines through COVAX. South Korea has assured Iran that their money won’t be blocked or seized if they transfer it to US banks. Meanwhile, GAVI claims that there is no “legal barrier” for Iran to procure vaccines as the US Treasury’s Office on Foreign Assets Control has already issued a license covering the issue.
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The sanctions on Iran were reimposed by the Trump administration in 2018 after the United States withdrew from the 2015 Nuclear Deal. The sanctions have since pushed Iran’s economy into a ditch making it hard for the country to recover from the coercive action. Iran has often alleged that the US sanctions were hampering its ability to carry out humanitarian works, including the COVID-19 handling.
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Iran is the worst affected country in the Middle East with more than 1 million COVID-19 cases and over 50,000 deaths. The cases in Iran have been rising rapidly since August with the country reporting more than 10,000 infections on a daily basis since the start of November. Iran is reportedly developing its own vaccine named after the recently assassinated nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
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(Image Credit: AP)