December 31, 2020
One hundred and sixty-seven pharmacists criticized the Head of Iran’s Food and Drugs Administration in a letter challenging its claim of producing a national COVID-19 vaccine.
“How do we dare claim that we can produce this vaccine?” they wrote in an open letter.
The pharmacists called the regime’s claims of making a national COVID-19 vaccine a “joke” and wrote that many countries have started the COVID-19 vaccination. They also criticized the procurement of the vaccine by Iran as “horribly disorganized.”
The pharmacists wrote that Mohammad-Reza Shaneh Saz, the Head of the Food and Drug Administration should take action to purchase and import the COVID-19 vaccine before it is too late.
They also said the claim was “an insult to the scientific intelligence” of pharmacists and was “merely an excuse for not providing vaccines”.
They dismissed claims by health officials that they could not purchase Pfizer vaccines due to its storage conditions and said it was not difficult to purchase deep freezers with temperatures as low as minus 90 degrees. They also noted that the Pfizer vaccine can be kept in a normal refrigerator for 5-6 days.
According to the Pfizer vaccine fact sheet, Pfizer thermal shippers, in which doses will arrive, can be used as temporary storage units by refilling with dry ice every five days for up to 30 days of storage.
The 167 pharmacists said they were “amazed” by Iran’s notion of creating a “nationally produced vaccine” and wrote, “Why should we allow them to make it seem as though creating such a specialized vaccine can be so simple? When they cannot buy a few deep freezers to transfer and store the vaccines, how can they create the vaccine for 80 million people?”
They also stated that less specialized medicines such as naproxen, intravenous vitamin C and insulin, were on the list of shortages in the country, and added that in the best-case scenario, Iran might be able to produce a few million vaccines in one year.
They also criticized regime officials for not paying healthcare workers on time.
Many Iranians demanded that the regime buy COVID-19 vaccines with the Farsi hashtag #واکسن_بخرید (buy the vaccine) on Twitter. The hashtag was trending twice as number one in Iran in the past week.
However, Iran’s Minister of Interior Affairs dismissed the demands as a “hype”.
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on state-run TV on December 26 that three quarters of the people who took part in the Twitter campaign were led by foreign sources.
Iran’s Health Ministry put the death toll at 54,814 for today. Prominent Iranian health officials say the actual figures are four times higher. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group that accuses the regime of lying about the number of deaths, said that the actual death toll was well over 193,300 in 475 cities, more than three times the official figures.