On March 11, 2020, following the spread of the coronavirus in Iran, the Iranian Hamdeli daily, which is identified with the pragmatic conservative camp, addressed the question of whether it will be permissible for Iran to buy the vaccine for the virus from Israel, if that country succeeds in developing the vaccine. The daily presented the opinions of two Iranian officials on this matter: Majlis Legal Committee Chair Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi. It quoted the latter as approving the purchase of a vaccine from Israel, if it is the only vaccine on the market. Following the publication, Shirazi's office issued a statement denying that he had given such an approval.
The following are translated excerpts from the Hamdeli article and from the denial issued by the ayatollah’s office.
Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (Source: khabaronline.ir, March 11, 2020)
Hamdeli: Majlis Legal Committee Chair Says We Will Be Able To Buy The Vaccine Through A Third Party
“The claim that Israel is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus… could pose a problem for Muslims and Muslim countries. If this claim by Israel turns out to be true, and Israel manages to obtain a vaccine before other countries, what is the ruling regarding Muslims purchasing this vaccine from Israel? Furthermore, Iran, as a Muslim country, is among the countries that have no political or economic contacts with Israel. In these circumstances, how can it buy the vaccine [from Israel] and use it?
“Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi, chair of the Majlis legal committee, told the ISNA news agency: ‘Not only we, but everyone, will be glad when some country manages to [develop a vaccine] and save human lives. If some country, including America, with whom we have no relations, and the Zionist regime, which we do not [even] recognize as a state, discovers the vaccine, it will surely [place it] on the global market, and we too will be able to purchase it via go-betweens or other countries.’”
Hamdeli: Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi Forbids Purchasing The Vaccine From Israel, Unless This Is The Only Option
“This raises the [following] question. Given that purchasing a vaccine manufactured by Israel, either directly or indirectly, will yield a profit for this country, and given that we know that many Shi’ite jurisprudents disapprove of generating profits for Israel, can we still buy a vaccine manufactured by Israel? Hamdeli’s reporter asked the office of Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi.
“The question: ‘Is it permissible to use a coronavirus vaccine discovered and manufactured by Israel?’
“The answer: ‘It is forbidden to purchase or sell the vaccine if we know for certain that the profit made by the companies [manufacturing it] will go to the Zionists and Israel, unless this is the only medicine [available] and there is no other alternative. In the latter case, it is not forbidden [to buy and use the vaccine].’”
Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi’s Office: The Report Is A Complete Lie
On the same day, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi’s office denied the report “circulated on the Internet and by some media outlets about the purchase of a coronavirus medicine from the regime that is occupying Jerusalem.” The statement, published by the Khabar Online news agency, added that “this report is a complete lie. No question on this matter was submitted [to us] and no answer was issued. We repeat our announcement that rumors of this sort are the work of people with ill intentions. The instructions, positions and opinions of Makarem Shirazi are posted only on his website, Makarem.ir.”