In the four weeks between February 28 and March 30, more than 30 countries sent medical aid worth tens of millions of dollars to Iran to help stem the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first reported in Qom on February 19. The aid ranged from test kits and masks to respirators.
China was the first country to deliver aid and initially provided Iran with more medical supplies than any other country. On February 28, a Chinese Red Cross delegation arrived in Tehran with 50,000 test kits and 13 respirators; Iran has a population of 83 million people. On March 30, Iranian state media reported that China was shipping daily around 40 tons of medical supplies.
European countries have also provided aid. On March 30, Britain, France and Germany delivered medical supplies using INSTEX for the first time. INSTEX stand for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, a financial system set up by the three European powers that went into effect in January 2019. It was designed to ensure that Iran receives economic benefits promised by the 2015 nuclear deal which were endangered after the Trump Administration withdrew from the deal in 2018.
The United States indicated it was willing to allow U.S. companies to provide humanitarian aid to Iran. On January 30, the United States announced a new Swiss humanitarian channel to ensure the sale and delivery of medical supplies to Iran. Humanitarian goods have always been exempt from U.S. sanctions, but foreign banks have been hesitant to finance business with Iran. On February 27, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said that the United States would permit two U.S. companies to sell medicine to Iran. The following is a list of countries that have offered Iran humanitarian aid to help combat the virus.
- China: On February 28, China sent a team of health specialists and medical supplies to Iran. A Chinese Red Cross delegation reportedly brought 50,000 test kits and 13 respiratory machines. On March 30, Iranian state media reported that China was sending around 40 tons of medical supplies daily on Mahan Airlines flights.
- Azerbaijan: On March 7, Azerbaijan announced plans to send $5 million in medical aid to Iran.
- Russia: On March 10, Russia delivered 50,000 diagnostic tests to Iran.
- Japan: On March 13, Japan announced that it would send $22.6 million in medical assistance to Iran.
- Uzbekistan: On March 16, Uzbekistan sent a plane shipment of sanitary and medical items to Iran, according to Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Germany, France and Britain: On March 2, France, Germany and Britain pledged $5.6 million in financial aid to help the Iranian government fight the coronavirus. The so-called E3 countries also announced a delivery of medical equipment through the World Health Organization and other U.N. agencies. On March 30, the three countries exported medical supplies to Iran using an INSTEX financial transaction for the first time. The three European powers launched the mechanism in January 2019 to ensure that Iran receives economic benefits under the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
- United Arab Emirates: On March 2, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) facilitated a shipment of 7.5 tons of medical supplies from the World Health Organization. On March 16, the UAE shipped 32 tons of medical equipment, including thousands of pairs of gloves, surgical masks and protective gear.
- Qatar: On March 16, Qatar dispatched six tons of medical equipment and supplies to Iran. Qatar sent a second shipment of 8.5 tons of medical supplies on March 21. On April 24, Qatar dispatched a plane with 15 tons of goods and medical equipment to Tehran. On April 29, Qatar sent a fourth shipment of medical aid to Iran, weighing 16 tons.
- Kuwait: On March 17, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah offered $10 million in medical aid to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
- Turkey: On March 17, Turkey provided a shipment of the following items to Iran: 1,000 test kits, 4,000 face masks, 4,750 sanitary clothing, 2,400 pairs of goggles, 78,000 three-layer masks, and 20,000 medical aprons.