December 3, 2020
An official at the Tehran Chamber of Commerce has announced that there will be few obstacles in Iran obtaining US-manufactured Covid-19 vaccines since 30 percent of the drugs entering Iran each month come from the United States anyway.
“Issues such as sanctions or money transfers do not pose any obstacle to the import of vaccines,” Nasser Riahi, Deputy Chairman of the Health Economics Committee of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, told the Iranian Labour News Agency on December 1. “Sanctions cannot prevent the import of the coronavirus vaccine.”
Riahi announced that a monthly import of 100 million euros’ worth of drugs and pharmaceutical raw materials was allowed under conditions set out in the sanctions, referred to as “Sanctions and the Central Bank’s Monetary Difficulties.” He added: “If we add the [allowed] import of equipment, this figure will reach 150 million euros per month.”
But Riahi said the Iranian people were not optimistic that they would have access to the coronavirus vaccine before the Iranian new year, Nowruz, March 2021.
He said the Oxford/AstraZeneca option, which he referred to as the “Indian vaccine” — India is one of many countries involved in medical trials of the medicine — was the most affordable, saying it would cost $8.00 for two doses.
He also announced that the price of the US Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be between $20.00 to $30.00, and said that Chinese vaccines would be available at a higher price of between $30.00 and $ 70.00.
Over the last few years, Iran has faced distribution problems for vital drugs, including insulin. Authorities have repeatedly blamed sanctions for the problems, despite the stipulation that most medicines are exempt from sanctions packages.
In one recent case in November, a Food and Drug Administration spokesperson blamed insulin shortages on US sanctions.