United States BLOCKS Iran’s Covid-19 vaccine purchase: Iran’s top banker alleges

The United States is preventing Iran’s efforts to purchase Coivd-19 vaccine through COVAX, a global initiative undertaken by the World Health Organization, according to the chief of Iran’s central bank.

The sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran have prevented money transfer for the purchase.

“So far, any methods to make payment and transfer the required currency have faced obstacles due to the inhumane sanctions of the US government and the need to obtain permits from OFAC,”  Abdolnasser Hemmati,  the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran wrote on Instagram.

Iran, which is dealing with the largest and deadliest COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East, announced months ago that it had become a member of COVAX in order to secure vaccines.

The WHO touts COVAX as “the world’s best hope” for tackling the pandemic in a coordinated and timely manner, and says the international initiative’s aim is to “guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to vaccines for people in all countries”.

Iran’s official COVID-19 death toll surpassed 50,000 on Saturday as the country battles the third wave of the virus with more than a million reported cases.

Iranian health authorities say the real numbers are likely to be more than twice the official figures.

After unilaterally reneging on Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers in May 2018, US President Donald Trump has imposed waves of economic sanctions on Iran.

The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran has since seen the blacklisting of the entire Iranian financial sector.

The sanctions, which have also targeted the Iranian central bank, have had a documented impact on Iran’s access to vital medicine in the past three years.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly said they consider the sanctions an instance of “economic and medical terrorism” against the Iranian people.

The US has refused requests by its traditional allies in Europe and human rights groups to lift the sanctions during the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, the United States blocked a USD $5 billion emergency loan to Iran from the IMF.