Iran Says U.S. Sanctions Inhibited Imports of 5 Million Influenza Vaccines

Iran's deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, claimed U.S. sanctions have inhibited Iran from obtaining 5 million doses of a vital influenza vaccine this year.

"..five million does of purchased flu vaccine have been blocked at an airport due to the sanctions against Iran and they cannot be cleared and exported to the country." - Iraj Harirchi, Iran's deputy health minister

Decisions by the U.S. government have had an immense impact on Iran's public health. According to a press conference Monday, U.S. sanctions have inhibited Iran from obtaining over 5 million doses of a vital influenza vaccine, preventing plans to vaccinate vulnerable populations ahead of the upcoming winter months. As a result, Iran hasn't distributed the 2020 influenza vaccine to pharmacies across the nation, and there's doubt whether it'll become available.

Furthermore, Iran has been unable to make advance payments for the purchase of the COVAX coronavirus vaccine. According to Sima Sadat Lari, a spokeswoman for Iran's health ministry, this is due to the U.S.'s sanctions, as well as problems with foreign currency transfer.

Since the Sept. 11th attacks, the U.S. Treasury Department has placed nearly all of Iran's petroleum sector under sanctions authorized by counterterrorism provisions. In recent months, the Trump Administration has increased economic pressure on Iran, reimposing sanctions and enforcing penalties on companies that do business with Tehran, Iran's capital.

"The Iranian regime continues to prioritize its support for terrorist entities and its nuclear program over the needs of the Iranian people." - Steven T. Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury Secretary

President-Elect, Joseph Biden, has promised that he'll discuss re-entering the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which President Trump withdrew from in 2018. In doing so, Iran's negotiations may require the U.S. unwinding a series of sanctions levied against Iran through the Trump Administration, a potentially prolonged and difficult process.

"They are making it difficult both for Iran and for Biden to get out of this quagmire.. ..It seems Trump thinks he may lose and is rushing to tighten the noose on Iran and on Biden’s diplomacy." - Meysam Sharifi, an oil trader in Tehran