Iran Heading Forward with Medical, Scientific Progress despite Harsh Sanctions
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran shows steadfast resolve to continue progress despite the toughest sanctions ever imposed by the US and its allies on the nation to block Tehran’s access to medicines needed for treatment of various kinds of diseases, particularly during the coronavirus outbreak.
Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki on Monday called on the World Health Organization (WHO) and its members to assist Iran to stand against the US unilateral sanctions which have impeded the country’s fight against coronavirus, and said despite embargoes Iranian scientists have done laboratory test of their anti-COVID-19 vaccine on monkeys.
“We need to share experiences, knowledge and technical capacity. We need solidarity and united initiatives under the leadership and technical support of the World Health Organization. Fair and timely access to medicine, health products and, especially effective vaccines without restrictions, discrimination and illegal sanctions is very important. Violent acts, especially when epidemics have left a negative impact on all aspects of life, are a sign of genocide that deliberately targets ordinary people and the most vulnerable,” Namaki said, addressing the 67th meeting of the WHO’s regional committee on Monday.
“I therefore urge all member states, the World Health Organization and other regional and international organizations to work together effectively to end such unilateral sanctions and to ensure the rapid eradication of COVID-19,” he added.
Elsewhere, Namaki referred to Iran’s progress in production of coronavirus vaccine, and said the country is through with several phases in developing the vaccine and Iranian scientists have tested the vaccine on animals, including monkeys, and earned good results.
He added that Iran will start the clinical tests of its coronavirus vaccine on humans within the next 3 weeks.
His comments came as the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has recently imposed sanctions on 18 Iranian banks and financial institutes in a move to bring the Iranian people to their knees.
The Trump administration decided to impose new sanctions on Iran's financial sector in defiance of European allies who warned that the move could have devastating humanitarian consequences on the country.
Meanwhile, Saeed Namaki said on Tuesday that the US harsh sanctions have turned into a driving force for the country’s technologists to produce every needed equipment for the medical staff to fight against the coronavirus.
Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki
“On the first days of the coronavirus outbreak, we were after masks and covers day and night but the Iranian petrochemical companies managed to produce special fibers within 50 days that enabled us to supply the health and hygiene staff with the lightest and most appropriate covers,” Namaki said.
He added that also masks, ventilators and detergents were rapidly mass-produced in the country during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We could both decrease the coronavirus deaths to 30 and turn into a producer and exporter (of anti-coronavirus products) within 50 days,” Namaki said.
Governments and international organizations have lauded Iran for relying on domestic initiatives to battle the disease while castigating Washington’s defiance of global treaties and violation of laws with regards to lifting of its bans from Iran even at the time of more pressure on the country’s health system because of a fresh spike in the number of infections.
Furthermore, Iran is now producing 6.5 million 3-layered and N95 masks per day, Deputy Industry, Mine and Trade Minister Mehdi Sadeqi Niyaraki announced in July.
"Until recently the excessive production of N95 masks was exported, but now export of masks has been banned," Sadeqi Niyaraki said.
He underlined that there is no shortage in production of alcohol, nursing protective gowns, disinfectants, and different kinds of detergent inside the country.
"Only 200,000 masks were produced before the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has reached 6.5 million," Sadeqi Niyaraki said, adding, "If the production by volunteers, people, and the Armed Forces are added to the number, it will be much bigger than what is now."
Meantime, Head of the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Mohammad Mokhber announced that coronavirus vaccine produced by Iranian scientists have passed the animal phase and will be tested on humans after receiving a license from the health ministry.
“Two of the 6 tries to produce coronavirus vaccine have arrived in the final phases and several stages of animal tests, including testing and injection of highly strengthened virus, have been conducted on monkeys successfully and the vaccine’s efficiency has been approved and human trials will be carried out soon,” Mokhber said on Tuesday.
He added that after injection of the vaccine to monkeys, the animal’s body monitoring and tests showed no virus, and even the pathological tests showed no signs of the coronavirus.
Mokhber said that the Headquarters is waiting for the health ministry’s license to test the vaccine on human beings, adding that well-equipped production lines of coronavirus vaccine have been set up for its mass-production after successful tests on humans.
The Iranian health ministry announced on Wednesday that 4,830 new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified across the country during the past 24 hours, adding that 279 patients have passed away during the same period.
"4,830 new patients infected with COVID-19 have been identified in the country based on confirmed diagnosis criteria during the past 24 hours,” Iranian Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Wednesday, and added, "2,237 patients have been hospitalized during the same time span.”
She added that the total number of COVID-19 patients has increased to 513,219.
“Unfortunately, 279 patients have lost their lives in the past 24 hours, increasing the number of the dead to 29,349,” the spokeswoman noted.
Lari expressed satisfaction that 414,831 coronavirus patients have recovered or been discharged from hospitals so far.
The spokeswoman further said that 4,570 cases infected with COVID-19 are in critical conditions.
She went on to say that 4,398,723 coronavirus diagnosis tests have so far been conducted across the country.
Lari warned that 30 provinces are still in red condition or the status of alert.
Earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that the people and businesspersons who do not care about health and hygiene anti-coronavirus orders and do not wear masks will face harsh punishment.
“Harsh punishment will be approved for a person who is aware of his disease (coronavirus) and does not respect the instructions,” President Rouhani said, addressing a meeting of the national coronavirus campaign headquarters in Tehran.
He added that it was approved today that anyone in the administrative sector, governmental or private, who does not care about the hygiene instructions will receive punishment, from warning to suspension of job for one year, noting that the businesses and shops which do not obey the orders will face closure.
Rouhani said that the banks, offices and businesses should not render service to people who violate health instructions otherwise the owner of the business will be punished.
The Iranian president had also announced last month efforts to increase the number of hospital beds in medical centers amid the country’s hard battle against the coronavirus outbreak and US sanctions.
Inaugurating several important national projects through video conferencing, Rouhani said that by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2021) more than 10,000 beds will be added to the current capacity of hospitals across the country.
Early in August, President Rouhani lauded Iranians for observing coronavirus-related instructions set by the health ministry, and noted that obligatory protocols will persist until discovering the vaccine.
Everybody should follow the instructions announced by the National Anti-Coronavirus Campaign Headquarters so that we overcome the virus and the related vaccine is made, Rouhani noted.
Those provinces which had already been in red conditions passed the coronavirus peak today, President Rouhani said.
He appreciated the nation for cooperating with the health officials in fighting the COVID-19.
Rouhani said in June that over 1,000 medical centers in the country have received necessary equipment to conduct tests on people suspected of infection to coronavirus, and added that Iran ranks first in the Muslim world in scientific achievements.
"Based on a report [by the health ministry], 1,200 centers across the country are ready to take samples and tests from people and 17,500 nursing and health homes are also prepared to provide hygiene and treatment services to people," Rouhani said, addressing a meeting of the national coronavirus campaign headquarters in Tehran.
Also, in August, he said that 1,500 hospital beds for special cases have also been added to the capacity of the country's medical system since the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, noting that 2 drug production lines are also added every month to the country's pharmaceutical capacity.
The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting approximately all countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed over 1.09 million people and infected approximately 38.4 million others globally.
The Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), former Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.
As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and most universities have been extended until further notice.
Rouhani on September 12 blasted the US administration for blocking the country’s efforts to receive loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fight against coronavirus, saying that the American officials have forgotten humanity.
“We demanded the IMF for $5bln to assist us during the coronavirus outbreak for vaccine and medicine; all parties have voiced their agreement, but the US does not allow us to take the loan. They have distanced themselves from humanity to such an extent,” Rouhani said.
He added that even the friendly states whose banks are holding Iran’s money have been pressured by the US not to provide the country with access to its assets.
“History has not witnessed such a crime, as you may not find any other country that cannot withdraw money from foreign banks to purchase and import medicine for its people,” Rouhani said.
He, meantime, said that the Americans are angry with the Iranian government's appropriate management of the coronavirus outbreak despite the harshest-ever sanctions imposed on the country.