Iran should base COVID-19 vaccine decisions on science

Jan 20, 20210 comments

In light of the statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on January 8, 2021, that the Islamic Republic will not import any COVID-19 vaccines made in the United States or the United Kingdom, we the undersigned organizations call upon the Supreme Leader to rescind this order and allow Iranians to purchase any safe and effective vaccines as soon as they are available, regardless of their country of origin.

It is the responsibility of all governments, as stipulated by international covenants which the Islamic Republic has  ratified, to protect the right to health and the right to life of its citizens. In the current context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, those rights are gravely endangered by the politicization of vaccine policy and the failure to base state policies regarding COVID-19 on anything but science, medical evidence and respect for human rights and the public’s health needs. This is particularly urgent in the case of Iran, which has experienced the highest infection and death rates from COVID-19 in the Middle East. Indeed, the Iranian Medical Council, the country’s main physicians association, has urged the Iranian government to purchase any available scientifically proven vaccines as soon as possible without politicization of the health crisis, stressing that “all decisions should be based on science.” 

After nearly a year, a swift and equitable vaccination campaign remains the best option to save lives, prevent illness, and slow the spread of the virus. While some Iranian authorities insist on waiting for Iran to finish developing its own vaccines, and Iranian vaccines can eventually help fight the pandemic, there is no scientifically justifiable reason to wait or limit supply. Delaying the vaccination process will only prolong the deadly health crisis.

 We urge the government of Iran to immediately announce it will allow the purchase and importation of any safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, in the interest of the health and wellbeing of the people of Iran.


Arseh Sevom
Center for Human Rights in Iran
Centre for Supporters of Human Rights
Human Rights Activist in Iran
Human Rights Watch
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
Miaan Group
United for Iran