Iran's leader calls UK and US coronavirus vaccines 'completely untrustworthy'

9 January 2021, 18:39

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned Iran from importing the Oxford or Pfizer vaccines
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned Iran from importing the Oxford or Pfizer vaccines. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned Iran from importing the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.

In a televised speech, he said the import of American and British vaccines was "forbidden", referring to the surging death tolls from the virus in both countries.

In a tweet from his account - which has since been hidden by the social media platform - Mr Khamenei claimed Covid-19 vaccines imported from the US or UK were "completely untrustworthy".

"It's not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations," the tweet said.

It also claimed that French coronavirus vaccines "aren't trustworthy".

However, Ayatollah Khamenei approved the import of vaccines from other "safe" places, and remains supportive of Iran's efforts towards producing a vaccine.

The country began testing its vaccines on humans in December, and it is expected to be ready for the local market by Spring.

Hardliners in Iran have longed opposed the US-made vaccines.

Read more: Covid fines reviewed after two women 'surrounded' by Derbyshire Police

Iran's Revolutionary Guard in December rejected the use of foreign-made vaccines altogether.

General Mohammad Reza Naghdi said the Guard "does not recommend the injection of any foreign vaccine" candidates based on genetic material known as messenger RNA, which carries the instructions for cells to make proteins.

Authorities said then that US-based benefactors plan to deploy thousands of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccines to Iran.

Iran retains routes to vaccines despite sanctions, including through its participation in Covax.

International banks and financial institutions are reluctant to deal with Iran for fear of American penalties.