In Iran, not a day goes by without sad news about increasing Covid-19 fatalities. Many people contract the novel coronavirus across the country and loss their lives without any medical care. More sadly, the officials care about neither people’s lives and health nor their dire living conditions.
In such circumstances, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, however, stepped further and banned citizens from accessing reliable foreign vaccines. “Importing American and British vaccines into the country is prohibited,” he said on January 8.
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) January 8, 2021
He also praised the government’s efforts for producing domestic Covid-19 vaccines, describing it as a dramatic achievement. This is while many experts, including health officials, openly forecast that domestic vaccines would be mass manufactured in July.
“Mass production of this vaccine needs certain infrastructure and the Covid-19 vaccine in Iran will begin mass production in July or August of 2021,” said Yahya Ebrahimi, member of the Parliament (Majlis) Health Commission, on December 29, 2021.
Khamenei also declared his skepticism about foreign vaccines, which have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is while the Food and Drug Organization Spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour implicitly announced that Tehran pursues incredible vaccines.
“The vaccine needs to have approval in the source country and the people there need to be using it,” Jahanpour said on January 1, adding, “The exact date when the vaccine will be imported, and when the vaccination process will begin cannot be announced.”
Iranian officials’ delay is ending at the expense of citizens’ lives. During recent weeks, Tehran was raising different excuses to justify its failure to purchase the vaccine. On December 7, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Abdulnasser Hemmati claimed that U.S. sanctions prohibited banking transactions required to procure Covid-19 Vaccines.
A few hours later, a COVAX spokesperson rejected Hemmati’s remarks, announcing, “There is no barrier by the U.S. for purchasing Covid-19 vaccines by Tehran.” Furthermore, an ICU expert Mohammad Reza Hashemian revealed that the government had imported many goods despite the sanctions.
“These days, [the government] purchases many foreign goods, and the vaccine is nothing in comparison. Anyhow, providing the vaccine and launching vaccination for a significant number of people will take time,” Hashemian said on January 6.
Earlier, member of the National Covid-19 Headquarters Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar had challenged officials’ claims about barriers. “People see that in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, the spread of coronavirus has subsided due to the use of vaccines,” he said on December 12, 2020.
On the other hand, in its December 30, 2020 edition, Hamdeli daily quoted an open letter by 167 pharmacists, who had described the domestic vaccine as a ‘joke.’ However, Khamenei’s refusal to procure reliable foreign vaccines is in the line of a criminal policy.
In March 2020, he described the coronavirus as a ‘blessing.’ In this context, he resorted to this deadly disease to quell any objection and disappoint protesters. In such circumstances, while Khamenei forecasts further protests due to his state’s socioeconomic failures, he has resorted to the coronavirus to ensure his reign.
Khamenei dismisses #CoronaVirus as "not that big a deal", even calls it a "blessing". Iranians should pray against the virus "as prayer can solve many problems"
Meanwhile the opposition MEK confirms 1000+ #COVID19 deaths in Iran
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) March 3, 2020
He hopes the upcoming U.S. administration grant economic reliefs and ease its dilemmas. However, he is seemingly neglected about the people’s slogan, “Our enemy is right here, [officials] are lying that it is the U.S.”