Coronavirus – a time for working together

Sir, – The Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis of grave magnitude facing the entire globe. The virus knows no borders.

Like many other countries, Iran is exhausted by this pandemic. Nonetheless, its response has been responsible and decisive. World Health Organisation authorities have acknowledged Iran’s remarkable achievements in curbing the outbreak. Iranian healthcare professionals, like their counterparts across the world, including Ireland, are doing their very best to save as many lives as possible.

Despite the best possible efforts being made, it is impossible to ignore the overwhelming impact of US-imposed sanctions on Iran.

No words can describe the heavy burden being borne by the Iranian people. Sanctions have long operated as an insidious maze of barriers and impediments, impacting every aspect of people’s business, trade, finance and cross-national dealings. And now, sanctions are becoming as deadly as the virus itself by denying Iranian people access to medical supplies and equipment. In the current crisis, sanctions are not incidental to the crisis in Iran. They lie at the heart of it, unjustly forcing Iran to exist as an “island” in a world where international co-operation is the most central prerequisite to overcoming this crisis.

President Trump’s arbitrary sanctions on Iran are neither endorsed by the UN nor by the international community. They are an injustice of unbearable proportions.

Sanctions are the antithesis to solidarity. It is a collective imperative for the international community to challenge and disregard these sanctions. Iran, like all other countries, is entitled to utilise its own resources for improving the effectiveness of its response to this pandemic.

The universal tragedy of Covid-19 has demonstrated the futility of divisive politics, both at local and international levels. Under these difficult and depressing circumstances, people around the world have never been in such dire need of solidarity and empathy. The compassionate people of Ireland are keen to be informed of the ways and means they can support and help their fellow human beings affected by this virus. They are not interested in politicising this tragedy. The same is true for the great people of Iran who are struggling against this outbreak with amazing fortitude. – Yours, etc,



Embassy of the

Islamic Republic of Iran,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir, – I agree with Diarmaid Ferriter's piece "Coronavirus has created an opening for a fairer health service" (Opinion & Analysis, March 27th). It is somewhat ironic to hear members of the current Government referring to a single-tier health service when they have stood solidly behind the proliferation of private practise in Ireland.

All the blame cannot be placed on politicians, however. Theodore Roosevelt in the US and Aneurin Bevan in the UK both met with resistance from medical organisations to their attempts to introduce a national health service in their respective countries. Bevan only succeeded in introducing the NHS when he agreed to allow medical practitioners to indulge in private practice, and Roosevelt’s attempts were singularly unsuccessful. As Prof John Crown said recently: “Isn’t it extraordinary that it takes a pandemic to make politicians think about doing what some of us have been asking for for many years.”

In every dark cloud there is a silver lining. Let’s hope there is one in this dark cloud. – Yours, etc,


(Professor Emeritus

of Haematology

and Academic Medicine,

St James’s Hospital

and Trinity College Dublin), Dublin 8.