In a world facing a pandemic, Iran’s struggles with the coronavirus stand out. The country currently has more than 17,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19—growing at about 1,000 per day—and more than 1,000 deaths. State media has warned that up to 3.5 million Iranians could die. And Iran’s outbreak is not only a threat to Iranians. Roughly 9 in 10 of the 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus throughout the Middle East can be linked back to Iran. Getting the country’s outbreak under control fast ought to be a global priority.
This dire situation has prompted prominent activists and figures like Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar to call for the U.S. to lift at least some of the sanctions it has imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, sponsorship of foreign terrorism, and human rights violations. Many blame the sanctions for shortages of much-needed medication and medical equipment.
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