Iranian Intensive Care Doctors Grapple with Covid-19, US Sanctions (+Video)

Iranian Intensive Care Doctors Grapple with Covid-19, US Sanctions (+Video)

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Trump's "maximum pressure campaign" has hampered Iranian doctors fight against Covid-19.

Nowhere else in the world faces this monster of a virus with the added scourge of President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" sanctions, which Iranian officials and doctors insist have hampered their Covid-19 fight.

As knowledge of home-generated solutions grow, this November was the cruelest month, with an official death toll of 10,000, a stark reminder of the sanctions invoked without hesitation in Washington.

Dr. Alireza Fatemi who works at the intensive care unit of the Shohadaye Tajrish Hospital in Tehran told CNN that domestic production of PPE and medicine has seen them through, yet sanctions mean they are always on the edge of a shortage.

"We are now much better off than in the early months ... If there were no sanctions, we could have backups of medicine and no worries about facing another wave of the pandemic."

"The most worrying thing for a doctor is to know there are medicines (plentifully) available in some parts of the world but not here," said Dr. Fatemi.

The hospital's dean, Reza Jalali Khoshnoud, blames the third spike, as Iranians now call it, on the need to keep the damaged economy afloat.

"People had to go to work", he said. "The risky businesses were allowed (to stay open), then after a few months we got a spike. The climax has been in the past month."

Though the sanctions technically exempt food and medical supplies, human rights reports from Iran have repeatedly emphasized the impact of sectoral sanctions on gaining access to essential medicines and medical equipment, including respirators and protective equipment for health-care workers. And experts say US sanctions on Iran are indeed hurting its response to the pandemic.

"Iran is hampered by sanctions that prevent it from accessing foreign reserves, foreign currency abroad to purchase the necessary medical equipment -- masks, anything that it might need to take care of its population," Sanam Vakil, an Iran expert with the UK think tank Chatham House, told CNN earlier this year.

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