Iran bans foreign companies from testing COVID-19 vaccines on Iranians

People walk on a street after Tehran reopened following a two-week shutdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Iran December 6, 2020. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday foreign companies would not be allowed to test COVID-19 vaccines on the Iranian people, a day after Iran’s Supreme Leader banned vaccine imports from the United States and Britain.

“Foreign companies wanted to give us vaccines so they would be tested on the Iranian people. But the health ministry prevented it,” Rouhani said in televised remarks, according to Reuters.

However, he did not name the companies or give further details.

“Our people will not be a testing device for vaccine manufacturing companies,” he added. “We shall purchase safe foreign vaccines.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, said on Friday that the U.S. and Britain were “untrustworthy” and possibly sought to spread the infection to other countries.

Iran, the country that has been worst hit by the novel coronavirus in the Middle East, launched human trials of its first domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidate late last month, saying it could help Iran defeat the pandemic despite U.S. sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise since 2018, when President Donald Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions.

Khamenei praised Iran’s efforts to develop domestic vaccines but said Iran could obtain vaccines “from other reliable places”. He gave no details but China and Russia are both allies of Iran.

“I’m not optimistic about France either because of their history of infected blood,” Khamenei said, referring to the country’s contaminated blood scandal of the 1980s and 1990s. 

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