Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Picture: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Picture: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI

Moscow  — Iran has approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and plans to both import it and produce it, giving the Middle East's worst-hit country a tool to fight the spread of Covid-19, foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday.

“The Sputnik V vaccine was yesterday also registered and approved by our health authorities,” Zarif said at a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow on Tuesday. “In the near future, we hope to be able to purchase it, as well as start joint production.”

Earlier in January, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, banned the government from importing vaccines from the US and Britain, which he said were possibly seeking to spread the infection to other countries.

Iran recorded more than 1.38-million cases and 57,560 deaths, according to government data on Tuesday, but there has been a decline in new infections in recent weeks.  

Meanwhile, an Iranian government spokesperson urged  US President Joe Biden to lift sanctions that it said were hampering Tehran’s fight against the pandemic.

“Since [Biden’s] administration claims not to be anti-science like the previous one  ... one expects it to free the transfer of Iran’s own foreign exchange resources to fight the coronavirus and for health and food, and lift banking sanctions quickly,” government spokesperson Ali Rabiei said on state television.

Mexico said earlier it was  close to signing a contract for the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, and the first shipment of about 200,000 doses could arrive next week.


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