May 24, 2022

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Iran returns donated COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in US

Iran has returned 820,000 donated COVID-19 doses because they were manufactured in the United States.

The doses were among roughly a million of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine donated to the country by Poland, according to The Associated Press, which cited state media.

“But when the vaccines arrived in Iran, we found out that 820,000 doses of them which were imported from Poland were from the United States,” Mohammad Hashemi, an official in Iran’s Health Ministry, said, the AP reported.

Hashemi added that “after coordination with the Polish ambassador to Iran, it was decided that the vaccines would be returned.”

Iran has relied on Sinopharm, China’s state-supported vaccine, to vaccinate its population, according to the AP, but it also offers citizens vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Russia’s Sputnik V and Indian company Bharat’s Covaxin, as well as the COVIran Barekat shot developed in the country.

In 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that American and British vaccines were “forbidden” in the country, the AP noted. The country now exclusively imports Western vaccines that were not manufactured in either the U.S. or the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Iran has grappled with the highest national death toll from COVID-19 infections in the Middle East and is now enduring its sixth wave of infections, the wire service reported.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, since the beginning of the pandemic Iran has recorded nearly 7 million COVID-19 infections and more than 135,000 deaths related to the virus.

Iran says roughly 90 percent of its population above 18 have received two COVID-19 vaccines, while only 37 percent have received a third shot, the AP reported.

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