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Iran returns ‘US-made’ donated COVID vaccines to Poland

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TEHRAN: Iran has returned 820,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines donated by Poland because they were manufactured in the United States despite 236 more people died by the deadly disease over the past 24 hours in the country.

State TV quoted Mohammad Hashemi, a health ministry official, as saying that Poland donated about a million doses of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine to Iran.

“But when the vaccines arrived in Iran, we found out that 820,000 doses of them which were imported from Poland were from the United States,” he said.

“After coordination with the Polish ambassador to Iran, it was decided that the vaccines would be returned.”

Iran’s health minister, Bahram Einollahi, wrote in a letter to the head of the customs authority that despite assurances by Poland, the jabs turned out to be from an “unauthorised source”.

He said Polish providers have promised they will “replace the vaccines with ones from an authorised source” and take back the returned jabs.

In 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, rejected any possibility of American or British vaccines entering the country, calling them “forbidden”.

Iran now only imports Western vaccines that are not produced in the US or Britain.

Iran is struggling with its sixth wave of coronavirus infections and authorities say the aggressive Omicron variant is now dominant in the country.

With more than 135,000 total deaths from COVID-19, according to official numbers, Iran has the highest national death toll in the Middle East.

It says it has vaccinated some 90 percent of its population above 18 with two shots, although only 37 percent of that group has had a third shot.

Hardliners who swept the parliament in last year’s polls railed against US-made vaccines even as daily deaths shattered records.

Iran has relied on Sinopharm, the state-backed Chinese vaccine, but offers citizens a smorgasbord of other shots to choose from – Oxford-AstraZeneca, Russia’s Sputnik V, Indian firm Bharat’s Covaxin, and its home-grown COVIran Barekat shot.

The number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in Iran increased to 135,276 with 236 more Iranians killed by the deadly disease over the past 24 hours, Iran’s Health Ministry announced on Monday.

236 more Iranians have died from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) over the past 24 hours bringing the total deaths to 135,276, Iran’s Health Ministry said on Monday.

19,110 new cases of infection with the Covid-19 were found over the past 24 hours, 2,514 of whom were hospitalized, it said.

The Iranian Health Ministry noted that 6,517,436 patients out of a total of 6,961,562 infected people have recovered or been discharged from hospitals.

Some 4,085 Covid-19 patients are in critical conditions and in intensive care units, it added.

The Health Ministry also announced that 62,261,396 Iranians have received the first dose and 55,157,584 people have so far received the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Moreover, 22,359,883 people have also received the third shot as the booster jab.

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