Iran returns ‘US-made’ donated COVID vaccines to Poland
Tehran says 820,000 jabs donated by Poland were manufactured in the US and will be returned.
Iran has returned 820,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines donated by Poland because they were manufactured in the United States.
State TV on Monday quoted Mohammad Hashemi, a health ministry official, as saying that Poland donated about a million doses of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine to Iran.
“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,” he said.
“After coordination with the Polish ambassador to Iran, it was decided that the vaccines would be returned.”
Iran’s health minister, Bahram Einollahi, wrote in a letter to the head of the customs authority that despite assurances by Poland, the jabs turned out to be from an “unauthorised source”.
He said Polish providers have promised they will “replace the vaccines with ones from an authorised source” and take back the returned jabs.
In 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, rejected any possibility of American or British vaccines entering the country, calling them “forbidden”.
Iran now only imports Western vaccines that are not produced in the US or Britain.
Iran is struggling with its sixth wave of coronavirus infections and authorities say the aggressive Omicron variant is now dominant in the country.
With more than 135,000 total deaths from COVID-19, according to official numbers, Iran has the highest national death toll in the Middle East.
It says it has vaccinated some 90 percent of its population above 18 with two shots, although only 37 percent of that group has had a third shot.
Hardliners who swept the parliament in last year’s polls railed against US-made vaccines even as daily deaths shattered records.
Iran has relied on Sinopharm, the state-backed Chinese vaccine, but offers citizens a smorgasbord of other shots to choose from – Oxford-AstraZeneca, Russia’s Sputnik V, Indian firm Bharat’s Covaxin and its home-grown COVIran Barekat shot.