This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The head of Iran’s Red Crescent Society says the country will receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in three weeks.
“According to arrangements made with a group of philanthropists in the U.S., 150,000 doses of [Pfizer] coronavirus vaccines are expected to enter the country,” Red Crescent Director Karim Hemmati told the semi-official Tasnim news agency on December 28.
He added that the vaccines will be distributed based on the priorities set by the Health Ministry. He did not provide more details.
On December 26, Hemmati said that his organization was in talks to purchase 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from China.
The head of Iran’s central bank said last week his country had received approval from U.S. authorities to buy coronavirus vaccines from the World Health Organization-led COVAX alliance.
Central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati did not say which vaccines Iran was buying.
Iranian officials have said that U.S. sanctions are preventing them from making payments to COVAX, to which some 190 nations have signed up.
U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran after exiting a 2015 nuclear deal in 2018 that was signed by Tehran and a group of major nations.
Humanitarian goods, including medicines, are exempt from U.S. sanctions. But the U.S. restrictions have deterred some foreign banks from processing financial transactions for Iran deals.
Iran has wrestled with the deadliest coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, which according to official figures has killed nearly 55,000 people and infected over 1.2 million.
Health officials have said that the real death toll is likely double what has been reported.
In recent days and following the introduction of tighter restrictions aimed at containing the pandemic, the number of official COVID-19 deaths and infections has dropped significantly.
On December 27, Iran reported 119 deaths from the coronavirus, the lowest daily fatality total in more than three months.