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US ‘medical terrorism’ hinders global COVID-19 vaccination efforts: Iran FM

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says unilateral sanctions and medical terrorism by the United States have hampered global vaccination efforts and left many nations to fend for themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Twitter message on Sunday, Zarif called for “a global vaccination response” to confront the pandemic, which has killed more than 3 million people across the world.

But global vaccination efforts, he emphasized, have been restricted “whether due to sanctions & #MedicalTerrorism against Iranians, or out of malice toward Palestinians.”

The US “has a vaccine surplus,” Zarif pointed out.

The top Iranian diplomat has repeatedly denounced the illegal and unilateral US sanctions that have blocked the country’s access to crucial medical supplies during the pandemic.

Iran is battling the highly contagious virus under illegal sanctions which the United States re-imposed against the country after withdrawing from a UN-backed nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers three years ago.

Washington, under former president Donald Trump, then unleashed a so-called maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic, characterized by sweeping economic sanctions that also hit Iran’s health sector.

The sanctions have intensified the adverse effects of the pandemic and hindered the government’s pathways to contain the deadly virus.

Iran has seen an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The country has recorded more than 2.3 million infections and a death toll of over 69,000.  

President Hassan Rouhani said earlier this month that Washington had blocked Tehran’s access to ten million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by pressuring the companies that were transferring the vaccines to Iran.

Iran, however, has developed several coronavirus vaccines, including one in cooperation with Cuba and has also received vaccine shipments from Russia, China and the COVAX initiative.

The country began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in early February, starting with front-line medical workers who are now fighting off the fourth coronavirus wave in Iran.

The government says the mass vaccinations will continue through spring, summer and autumn until the country reaches collective immunity.

The United Nations, the European Union (EU) and human rights organizations as well as several American lawmakers and political figures have urged Washington to ease the bans on Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Cuba and North Korea during the health crisis.

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