TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Friday banned Iran from importing of American Pfizer-BioNTech and Britain’s Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccines, a reflection of mistrust toward the West.
In a televised speech, he said the import of American and British vaccines were “forbidden,” referring to the surging death tolls from the virus in both countries.
”I really do not trust,” them, Khamenei said of those nations. "Sometimes they want to test ,” their vaccines on other countries, adding, “I am not optimistic (about) France,” either.
However, Khamenei okayed the import of vaccines from other “safe” places, and remains supportive of Iran's efforts toward producing a vaccine. The county began testing its vaccines on humans December. The product is expected to hit the local market in spring.
Hardliners in Iran have longed opposed the U.S-made vaccines. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in December rejected the use of foreign-made vaccines altogether. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi said the Guard “does not recommend the injection of any foreign vaccine” candidates based on genetic material known as messenger RNA, which carries the instructions for cells to make proteins.
Authorities said then that U.S.-based benefactors plan to deploy scores of thousands of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus to Iran.
Iran retains routes to vaccines despite sanctions, including through its participation in COVAX. International banks and financial institutions are reluctant to deal with Iran for fear of American penalties.