A prominent Iranian cleric said on Wednesday that would be acceptable for the country’s citizens to use a coronavirus vaccine developed by Israel—if “there is no substitute.”
“It is not permissible to buy and sell from Zionists and Israel,” Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, 93, told the Iranian daily Hamdeli. “Unless the treatment is unique, and there is no substitute. Then this is not an obstacle.”
Shirazi is one of the highest authorities in Shi’ite Islam and a former member of the Iranian regime’s Assembly of Experts, which appoints the country’s supreme leader, according to The Times of Israel. He has previously called the Holocaust a “superstition.”
At least 429 people have died in Iran from the coronavirus outbreak and more than 10,000 people have been infected. Iran is facing one of the most severe outbreaks of coronavirus outside of China, where it originated.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday denied reports that the Israel Institute for Biological Research was almost complete with developing a vaccine for the coronavirus. He said the process was advancing on schedule but would still take time.