Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has announced that his government will ban the imports of UK and US-made COVID-19 vaccines.
Khamenei said in a live television broadcast on Friday, “Imports of US and British vaccines into the country are banned. I have told this to officials and I’m saying it publicly now.”
The statement followed a recent rise in tensions between Iran and the US, exemplified by Iran’s seizure of a South Korean oil tanker earlier in the week.
The announcement effectively prohibits the three major vaccines that have so far been given the green light around the world.
The German BioNTech vaccine is co-produced by the American firm Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine is a US achievement and the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine — cheaper than the other two options — is from the UK.
Khamenei though praised on-going efforts to produce a vaccine inside Iran.
The country was also reportedly working with the Chinese company Fosun Pharma to produce and distribute vaccines.
Iran has been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with almost 56,000 deaths since the virus reached the country.
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