Since late last year, countries all over the world have been doing their best to ramp up the vaccination effort and achieve some sort of normal for their citizens, hopefully before mutated strains can increase the danger.
But one exception to that is Iran, a country that did not institute a lockdown and is now refusing to buy any of the World Health Organisation-approved vaccines, which is putting the entire world at risk, not to mention Iranians.
Health officials are openly worrying about the problem, with Tehran Covid-19 Task Force chief Alireza Zali saying that the new wave of the coronavirus is “inflaming” on March 1, and National Covid-19 Task Force spokesperson Alireza Raisi saying on February 20 that the “pace of virus spread is very high”.
Things have gotten so bad that even the state-run media has criticised the government’s mishandling of vaccinations, with Arman daily saying that global vaccinations are effective, even against mutated strains, and criticised the mullahs for failing to protect the people.
The ISNA news agency stated that this vaccination campaign has so far protected 225 million people in 100 countries, while Mostaghel daily pointed out that even war-torn Afghanistan has got half a million doses, compared with Iran’s 0.
This is all because Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned the import of the vaccine for no logical reason, which means that other officials are having to promise that a domestic vaccine will be out later this year, subject to testing.
The truth is that Iranian officials are terrified that a Covid-19 vaccine would allow the Iranian people to once again gather in large crowds, which would mean increased protests against the system and the overthrow of the mullahs. For the past 12 months, the government has used the pandemic as a way to suppress protests and keep its shaky grip on power.
Before the pandemic, the Iranian government was facing multiple protests each day and had only barely suppressed three major protests in two years. It would not at all be surprising that another one would happen again so soon.
The coronavirus allowed Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani to divert attention away from their disastrous rule, with Khamenei even describing it as a “blessing”. But they couldn’t even manage that because the attention is back on them now and the Iranian people are furious at being used as cannon fodder against the virus.
The Hamdeli daily wrote: “Officials’ behaviours seem that they missed the increase in coronavirus death toll and new cases, and cannot tolerate a decrease in Covid-19 patients.”