Unilateral, illegitimate US sanctions hamper Iran’s COVID-19 fight: IRIMC president

The Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRIMC) says the “unilateral and illegitimate sanctions” imposed by the United States have complicated the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, specifically by impeding access to much-needed medicines and vaccines.

In a letter Tuesday to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), IRIMC President Mohammad Reza Zafarqandi said the council, as a non-governmental organization and the senior medical regulatory body in Iran, feels a responsibility to seek all possible avenues to provide COVID-19 vaccines for both Iran’s medical staff and general public.

“Unfortunately, the US unilateral and illegitimate sanctions against our country, especially restrictions over our banking system and financial transactions have seriously hampered our efforts to do our mission in this area,” he stated.

He called on the WHO chief to do his utmost to facilitate Iran’s access to coronavirus vaccines for its patients.

Iran has been among the countries hit hard by the coronavirus that first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading across the globe.

The country is battling the infectious virus under the harshest sanctions which the US re-imposed after leaving the UN-backed nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers in 2018.

Iran, which reported its first COVID-19 infection cases in late February, has mobilized all its resources to tackle the issue, including increased production and import of hygiene and protective items as well as enforcing diagnostic measures across the nation.

Addressing a special session of the UN General Assembly early this month, Iran’s Minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education Saeed Namaki said the unilateral sanctions have targeted the medical sector during the pandemic.

Namaki said it was crucial for everyone to have timely, cost-effective, and equitable access to diagnostic, medical equipment, medicines and vaccines with no discrimination, sanctions, or unjustifiable prioritization.

The Iranian minister had earlier penned a letter to the WHO chief, asking for global efforts towards ending America’s “unilateral and illegitimate” sanctions against Iranians amid a deadly coronavirus pandemic.