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.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

JNS is more than just another news website and syndication service. It is an organization devoted to nonstop reporting, and telling the truth about Israel and Jewish issues unburdened by the biases and institutional blinders that distort so much of what we read, hear and see about these topics elsewhere in the secular and even Jewish press.

At JNS, you get the facts about Israel and Jewish issues without the bias that so often tilts the argument against the Jewish state. JNS articles and columns are republished every week by digital outlets and print newspapers across the globe. But in the age of round-the-clock news coverage, advertising and syndication revenues are not enough to support our continued growth. We need your financial help to keep JNS on target as we continue our fair and accurate reporting.

Please help us take JNS to the next level with a tax-deductible sponsorship, either on a recurring monthly basis. Jewish News Syndicate is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.