Chinese medical workers arrive at Tehran airport, Feb. 29, 2020, to help Iran with its coronavirus response. (IRNA)

February 24, 2021

On Monday, February 22, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that China would be donating 250,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine made by China National Pharmaceutical Group, commonly known as Sinopharm, to Iran.

Separately, Health Minister Saeed Namaki reported that round two of the vaccination of medical staff and health workers would get under way on February 23. So far, having accumulated 120,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and the promised 250,000 doses from China, Iran has enough vaccine to inoculate 185,000 people in total.

Reports from the southwestern province of Khuzestan continue to be alarming. In big cities such as Abadan and Ahvaz the highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom is now infecting more and more people, and hospitals are at capacity or – as local officials put it – are indeed “overflowing”. Still, the government and the National Coronavirus Taskforce continue to resist calls for a two-week lockdown of the province.

New Round of Vaccinations to Start

The vaccination of another 100,000 medical personnel and health workers will start on Tuesday, February 23, announced Health Minister Saeed Namaki. Iran has so far procured 120,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine – by itself, enough to inoculate a total of 60,000 people – so it is not clear how “another” 100,000 are to be vaccinated when Iran has not received any other shipment. That said Namaki may be counting on the Chinese-made vaccine now expected to arrive next week.

“I was not ready to talk about it until technical details are resolved, but I must tell you that the Chinese government has donated 250,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Iran,” said Saeed Khatibzadeh, Foreign Ministry spokesman.

According to earlier announcements, around 34,000 frontline medical personnel and health workers who work in ICUs will have priority. After them it will be the turn of other health workers and medical staff.

“This is Not the Way to Run the Country”

In his statements on Monday, Namaki was highly critical of uncontrolled traffic across the border with Iraq, which has been officially closed in three Iranian provinces. “Last night they informed me from Ilam that a young, pregnant woman had died because of coronavirus, and they had delivered the baby by cesarean section,” he said. “Who is responsible for the death of this Iranian woman?… When was it that we allowed them to cross the border on buses? A bus enters Iran through its western border and goes to a city, and then we find positive cases in that city without us knowing anything about it. This is not the way to run the country.” Namaki went on to complain: “Nobody tells me who comes and who goes, making me into a morgue manager instead of the health minister.”

Iran Wire

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.