A government official confirmed the shots were from the US, which is an “unauthorized source”
Iran returned 820,000 doses of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine to Poland because it was made in the US, a health ministry official told Iranian state TV on Monday. The shots had been donated by Warsaw.
“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, a health ministry official, told local media.
“After coordination with the Polish ambassador to Iran, it was decided that the vaccines would be returned,” he added.
In a letter referenced by Al Jazeera and seen by Iranian media, Iranian Health Minister Bahram Einollahi told the head of the customs authorities that the jabs turned out to be from an “unauthorized source” despite Poland’s assurances.
Einollahi said the Polish authorities had agreed to replace their donation with “ones from an authorized source” and take back the returned jabs.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei had previously issued a blanket ban on British and American vaccines. The country later authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite it being developed in the UK and being touted as Britain’s life-saving gift to the world.
“Imports of US and British vaccines into the country are forbidden… They’re completely untrustworthy. It’s not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations,” Khamenei stated in January 2021. At the time, both the US and UK were experiencing high coronavirus rates. He suggested a country that produces a good vaccine wouldn’t be experiencing severe Covid-19 outbreaks.
Iran says it has vaccinated around 90% of its population over 18 with two shots. Only 37% of those vaccinated have received a third shot.
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