Iranian money
Iranian moneyiStock

Iran has won US approval to transfer funds for coronavirus vaccines from overseas, the central bank chief said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Central Bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said an Iranian bank had received backing from the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control to transfer the money to a Swiss bank to pay for the vaccines.

"They (Americans) have put sanctions on all our banks. They accepted this one case under the pressure of world public opinion," Hemmati was quoted as having told state TV.

There was no immediate US reaction to Hemmati's remarks.

Hemmati said Iran would pay around $244 million for initial imports of 16.8 million doses of vaccines from COVAX, a multi-agency group dedicated to assuring fair access to vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.

Iran has for months wrestled with the worst outbreak in the Middle East of COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Thursday that 152 people had died of COVID-19 in Iran in the past 24 hours, taking the total deaths in the country to 54,308.

The Trump administration has regularly enforced sanctions on Iran since 2018, when it withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and has ramped up the sanctions in recent weeks, when its efforts to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran did not succeed.

Iranian officials have claimed that US sanctions are making it difficult for Iran to purchase medicine and health supplies from abroad, including COVID-19 vaccines. The US insists that medicines and humanitarian goods are exempt from sanctions.