Iranwire – Two days after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned the purchase of American and British vaccines, the heads of the three branches of the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, along with the chairman of the Assembly of Scientific Associations, appealed to President Hassan Rouhani to ensure the vaccines are procured immediately. They urged him not to politicize the vaccines, and warned him that the lives of Iranians were at risk.
The request was presented in the form of a letter sent on January 10 and was signed by Mohammad Reza Zafar Ghandi, President of the Iranian Medical Council, Mostafa Moin, Chairman of the Supreme Council, Abbas Aghazadeh Masrour, Chairman of the General Assembly of the council, and Iraj Fazel, Chairman of the Medical Scientific Associations’ Group.
The experts pointed out that vaccinations were underway in several countries in the Middle East, and signaled that Iran risked falling behind in the initiative to vaccinate its population. The only way to stop the continued spread of coronavirus is to prioritize the acquisition of effective, approved vaccines as quickly as possible, they said.
“As representatives of the medical community of the country, we strongly urge you to direct all efforts of the esteemed government to provide a safe and approved vaccine through scientific authorities in order to ensure the natural rights of the people and the expectations of the medical staff are met, using all the capacities of the public and private sectors and divorced from political issues,” the letter to Rouhani read.
The four doctors also raised the issue of Iranian authorities’ insistence that efforts to produce domestic vaccines continue. They say these vaccines will not be approved and mass-produced soon enough, and so urged Iranian officials to procure vaccines produced abroad now.
The appeals from Iran’s most distinguished medical experts can be seen as a direct response to the Supreme Leader’s ban on foreign vaccines, his claims that the US and UK are not trustworthy, and the health minister Saeed Namaki’s apparent support for this stance.
Khamenei’s remarks met with widespread outrage and opposition from Iranians on social media, but the letter sent on January 10 was the first response to Khamenei’s announcement on behalf of Islamic Republic officials.