December 14, 2020
The Head of Iran’s Drug Importers Union denied recent statements by Iran’s President Rouhani about problems in transferring money for COVID-19 vaccine purchases due to sanctions. This comes while the Head of Iran’s Parliamentary Health Commission said not even a dollar had been allocated for the purchase and import of the COVID-19 vaccine by the government.
In an interview with a state-run daily today, Naser Riahi said money could be transferred for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are currently importing the country’s pharmaceutical needs in a variety of ways. We even have transactions with US and European pharmaceutical companies, as well as raw materials from India, China, and Russia. Money is being transferred in all these transactions,” Riahi told Sepid Daily.
Before this on December 7, Abdolnaser Hemmati, the Head of the Central Bank of Iran said they were facing problems in purchasing and transferring money for the vaccine due to the “inhumane sanctions imposed by the US government.” Hemmati said the vaccine must be acquired through the World Health Organization (WHO) with an OFAC license.
In a cabinet meeting on December 9, Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian regime’s President, said “we should curse (US President) Trump hundreds of times” for creating problems in the transfer of medicine, equipment, and vaccines.
“Simple transfers that could be done through phone or Swift now needs the involvement of the whole country for weeks and sometimes months,” he added.
But according to the Head of Iran’s Drug Importers Union, Iran had no problems purchasing the COVID-19 vaccine through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility or COVAX.
Citing Hemmati’s remarks, Riahi said he did not know the source of information but was sure the Central Bank was getting 100 million Euros a month for pharmaceutical imports and raw materials, as well as medical equipment.
“If we could not import medicine for a month, we would have catastrophic shortages,” he said. “This means that the transfer of money and import of medicine is ongoing.”
Riahi added the total amount needed to buy the vaccine was two or three times more than the 100 million Euros/month currently being transferred.
“This is not an amount that officials need to worry about.”
A spokesman for the Covax global vaccine program told the Washington Post that Iran has received a U.S. government exemption to procure vaccines.
This is while according to Hossein Ali Shahriyari, the Head of the Parliament’s Health Committee, “the Central Bank has not yet allocated a single dollar to buy the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“We didn’t get any answers in the meetings with the Central Bank and the Planning and Budget Organization officials,” Shahriyari told state-run TV. “We are waiting to see what the government does. To see whether they want to manufacture the vaccine internally or buy it from foreign countries. We have yet to receive a clear and logical response,” he added.