Kurdistan disputes video claiming coronavirus vaccines were smuggled to Iran

The Pfizer - BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. (Photo: Archive)
The Pfizer - BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Wednesday denied claims made in a video circulating on social media that purports to show coronavirus vaccines being smuggled to neighboring Iran.

In the clip, a person whose face is not shown appears to cut shipping tape that acts as a seal on a box containing doses of the Pfizer - BioNTech vaccine and paperwork with a KRG stamp is shown to the camera.

Read More: First Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses arrive in Kurdistan Region, new batch of Sinopharm on the way

Local media and BBC Persian quickly picked up the story, giving it an apparently false air of authenticity. 

"As soon as the video was spread," read a government statement, "supervisory teams at the Ministry of Health began to conduct a preliminary investigation in coordination and communication with the Iraqi federal Ministry of Health under the supervision of the Iraqi and Kurdistan Region health ministers and the representative of the company producing the Pfizer vaccine." 

"The investigations have shown that there is no basis for the matter and that it would like to clarify some facts to the public opinion."

The statement explained that the actual boxes of Pfizer vaccine arriving in the autonomous Kurdistan Region carry no such documentation or KRG stamps because they are not sent directly to the region from the company, but instead through the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

The ministry also "expressed concern over efforts to create anxiety among its citizens, intending to sabotage the system for sending and distributing the vaccine in the Kurdistan Region in a way that aims to halt this humanitarian service to the people."

Editing by John J. Catherine