An Iranian Shi'ite cleric denied approving the purchase of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus if it is released by Israel, after an Iranian daily reported that he had permitted the use of an Israeli-produced vaccine if there was no other option, according to Radio Farda.
Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi was reported as telling the Hamdeli (Empathy) daily on March 11 that "It is forbidden to purchase or sell the vaccine if we know for certain that the profit made by the companies [producing it] will go to the Zionists and Israel unless this is the only medicine [available] and there is no other alternative."
The ayatollah's office denied the report, stressing that "The Q&A on the subject never took place, and it is absolutely fake news." Iran is considered one of the main threats against Israel and funds and supports multiple terrorist groups that target Israel.
In the same article, Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi, the Iranian parliament's Legal Committee Chairman, told Hamdeli, "Not only we but everyone, will be delighted when some country manages to [develop a vaccine] and save human lives. If some country, including America, with whom we have no relations, and the 'Zionist' regime, which we do not [even] recognize as a state, discovers the vaccine, it will surely [place it] on the global market, and we too will be able to purchase it via go-betweens or other countries."
Rahimi Jahanabadi has not similarly denied the report.
Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis announced recently that Israeli scientists could develop a vaccine for the coronavirus within a few weeks and have it available in 90 days.
For the past four years, a team of The Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL) scientists has been developing a vaccine against infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), which causes a bronchial disease affecting poultry. The effectiveness of the vaccine has been proven in preclinical trials carried out at the Veterinary Institute.
Akunis said he has instructed his ministry’s director-general to fast-track all approval processes with the goal of bringing the human vaccine to market as quickly as possible.
“Given the urgent global need for a human coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development,” MIGAL CEO David Zigdon said. The vaccine could “achieve safety approval in 90 days,” he said.
Maayan-Jaffe Hoffman contributed to this report.