The coronavirus crisis is just getting worse in Iran, with the daily death toll consistently hitting triple digits, even as other countries see their case numbers and deaths drop in the wake of effective vaccine rollouts and public health campaigns.
The state-run Tasnim news agency wrote on May 19: “A periodic comparison of the statistics in the past week shows that the mutated variant of the virus is still active. In some areas, the virus has risen to the point where there is concern that the current small flames of the disease all over the country will suddenly become a worrying crisis or cause the fifth peak throughout Iran.”
As many countries work through the widespread vaccination of the public, the government has significantly limited the number of vaccines delivered, with most medical staff not yet given their shot and no vaccination schedule announced. This is the result of the authorities not only refusing to allow certain WHO-approved vaccines from being distributed in Iran but also stressing that a domestic vaccine would need to be developed, perhaps taking until next year. As a result, vaccination has been delayed, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Despite that, according to former President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, all officials have already been vaccinated. It is believed that this was done using the same one that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned in January for its supposed untested nature, despite already being administered to thousands of Brits and Americans at that point. Any other doses of the vaccine have been sold on the black market by dealers affiliated with the state.
The Arman newspaper wrote: “People are asking themselves why only ordinary people are affected by the Covid virus… This has increased the suspicion among the people that there are people who have received the Covid vaccine.”
Food and Drug Administration spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour denied on May 18 that any Covid vaccine has made its way to the black market, but MP Mohsen Dehnavi said one week earlier than 200,000 doses were missing from official stores and were being sold illegally for 250 million rials (approx. $1,121) per shot.
The Iranian opposition wrote: “The regime is delaying public vaccination to prevent assemblies and mass protests. However, this brutal policy has caused divisions within the regime and its forces and is likely to result in popular protests and uprisings against its leaders, especially Khamenei. This is a government that has not only withheld the vaccine from the people, but has stolen bread from their tables, and has forced the poor people to go to work in the midst of the Covid crisis, or wander the streets looking for work, or looking for food in garbage cans.”