Iranian cleric and religious authority Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi has denied approving the purchase of a hypothetical vaccine for the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) if it came from Israel.
Amid the news that Israeli researchers are swiftly progressing on the development of a vaccine, Iranian newspaper Hamdeli last week reported that Shirazi had allowed such a deal “if there is no substitute.”
The Ayatollah’s office has now claimed the interview “never took place” and was to be considered “absolutely fake news.”
93-year-old Shirazi reiterated his, and Iran’s policy, of not doing business with “the Zionists,” with a potential Corona vaccine being no exception.
The potential release of a Coronavirus vaccine by Israeli scientists has spelled out difficult questions for governments and groups calling for the boycott of Israel.
Official numbers for Corona infections in Iran state that 16,169 people have tested positive for the virus, with about 1,000 reported deaths. International experts believe the figures to be higher and knowingly distorted by the Iranian government.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz accused Teheran of covering up the number of Coronavirus cases in the country, aiming to mislead its population and the international community over the seriousness of the outbreak in Iran.
Katz stated on Twitter that the “Ayatollah regime hides vital information from Iranians,” exposed its citizens to dangers and did not let them take adequate protective measures.
Concerns arose last week after satellite images reportedly showing the digging of mass graves in Iran – described as a “horrifying scene” by Katz – and a video report of an Iranian nurse claiming there had been over 100 deaths in her hospital in just one day surfaced online. The nurse was arrested by Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) shortly after publishing the video.
TPS has learned that the government has prepared around one million body bags to deal with the expected number of Corona victims. Bodies of victims are reportedly also being burned to further obscure the complete extent of the outbreak.
Several high-ranking Iranian political and military figures have tested positive for Coronavirus. Over 10 percent of Iran’s Members of Parliament have tested positive for the virus, with two already having died.
Ali Akbar Velayati, the top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also tested positive, sparking rumors that Khamenei may have become infected.
Velayati, Iran’s foreign minister at the time of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, is accused of being the mastermind of Argentina’s worst terror attack that killed 85.