News Release

Lift Economic Sanctions to Avoid More Deaths From Pandemic, Economists Say


CommonDreams reports: “‘Literally Weaponizing Coronavirus’: Despite One of World’s Worst Outbreaks of Deadly Virus, U.S. Hits Iran With ‘Brutal’ New Sanctions.” In These Times reports: “U.S. Sanctions on Iran Are Increasing Coronavirus Deaths. They Need to Be Stopped Now.”

The U.S. government should instead be lifting economic sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries to avoid unnecessary deaths and more extensive propagation of the pandemic, said economist Jeffrey Sachs, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

In a statement, the Center for Economic and Policy Research said: “While sanctions already cause tens of thousands of needless deaths, the lethal toll during the novel coronavirus pandemic will be made far worse in countries where imports of medications, medical equipment, and the maintenance of water, sanitation, and health care infrastructure are restricted due to the impact of U.S. sanctions. These restrictions will also make it harder for health authorities to control the spread of the disease within their countries.”

“The Trump administration is using sanctions against Iran and Venezuela to pressure those governments by inducing widespread suffering,” Sachs said. “This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. Yet worse, it is now feeding the coronavirus epidemic. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible.”

CEPR noted: “The crippling economic sanctions in place against Venezuela and Iran, and a number of the sanctions targeting North Korea, were unilaterally imposed by President Trump, thanks to the broad sanctions powers accorded to the U.S. president under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) recently introduced legislation that would reform these two laws in order to reestablish congressional control and oversight over executive branch sanctions powers.”

See more statements from economists on this effort from CEPR.

For interviews, contact: Dan Beeton, (202) 239-1460, beeton at, @ceprdc