According to a survey carried out by an institute affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on March 13, around 20 million Iranian citizens have contracted the novel coronavirus in the past year. Furthermore, amidst the fourth wave of Covid-19 in Iran, many citizens are concerned about being infected with the mutated strains of the illness.
“Fifty-two percent of people are seriously concerned about the infection of themselves or their family members with this disease. Eighteen percent have announced that they themselves have contracted the virus. However, this percentage is for people above 18 years old who account for 72 million of Iran’s population,” wrote Etemad daily, affiliated with ‘reformist’ faction, on March 13.
“If we calculate this percentage for the entire population, 15 million people are probably infected with the virus across the country. Of course, the real number is likely higher than these stats, which is consistent with the latest assessments that have declared around 20 million people to have contracted the coronavirus so far,” the daily added.
Furthermore, the official survey revealed that 1.5 percent of people had lost at least one of their family members due to Covid-19. “It can be said that the real coronavirus death toll is around 150,000 people, that is 2.4 times more than figures announced by the Health Ministry,” Etemad ended.
A day earlier, on March 12, the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) stated that more than 230,000 Iranian citizens had lost their lives to the coronavirus across Iran. “Over 230,100 people have died of the novel coronavirus in 518 cities checkered across all of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to reports tallied by the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) as of Friday afternoon local time, March 12,” wrote the MEK on its official website.
Previously, on April 28, 2020, Mohammad Reza Mahboub-Far, a member of the National Covid-19 Task Force, had challenged official statistics. “The current stats of the coronavirus illness are 20 times higher than what is being announced by the Health Ministry. This has resulted in the people not taking this lethal illness seriously… To this day, only six percent of the patients infected with COVID-19 have been identified across the country,” Vatan-e Emrouz daily quoted Mahboub-Far as saying on the same day.
Notably, in a mid-July 2020 cabinet session, President Hassan Rouhani announced that around 25 million Iranians had contracted the coronavirus, and 30 to 35 million others are exposed to the virus.
“The Health Ministry’s Research Center is reporting, ‘Until now, 25 million Iranians have been infected with the novel coronavirus and between 30 to 35 million others will be exposed to contract the virus in the upcoming months,’” Rouhani said.
Meanwhile, Massoud Mardani, a member of the National Covid-19 Task Force, announced 28 million people had been infected with the virus in an interview with Fars news agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on July 19, 2020.
“Now, 28 million Iranians have contracted the novel coronavirus, 85 percent of whom are without symptoms. Given the health apparatus’ weakness, there will be many deaths if 35 million people become contracted,” he said.
Despite these facts, which have put Iran among the world’s most affected countries based on John Hopkins University’s August 23, 2020 coronavirus update, the Iranian government still refuses to procure reliable Covid-19 vaccines. Regarding the outbreak of the UK strain in all of Iran’s 32 provinces—according to Deputy Health Minister Qassem Janbabaei, the government’s policy toward the health crisis may result in much more fatalities.
In such circumstances, the international community must pressure Iranian authorities to procure Covid-19 vaccines from reliable companies and spare Iranians’ lives. Ignorance about the ayatollahs’ harrowing policies over the coronavirus crisis in Iran may drastically affect global efforts for eradicating the pandemic.