Medics tend to a coronavirus (COVID-19) patient at the Shohadaye Tajrish Hospital in Tehran, Oct. 14, 2020. (AP)

By Pouyan Khoshhal

April 24, 2021

On Thursday, April 22, the official number of daily Covid-19 fatalities in Iran passed 450 for the first time in 2021.The jump in the number of new cases has not only coincided with a shortage of hospital beds in both common wards and ICUs, but a shortage of equipment and facilities.

Tehran’s Masih Daneshvari Hospital is a well-known center for treating patients with acute respiratory diseases. But this facility, too, is now at capacity, and has set up a field hospital in its grounds.

The fourth wave of coronavirus has also led to a shortage of medical manpower. On April 22, Health Minister Saeed Namaki ordered that all students in their final year of medical, nursing and medical assistant courses must report to wards treating Covid-19 patients.

Joint Production of the Russian Vaccine

Namaki also announced that joint production of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V will get under way in Iran in the next two weeks. He claimed that by late May, Iran would rank among the “best” producers of coronavirus vaccine in the world.

On April 22, Iran also received a delivery of 100,000 more doses of Sputnik vaccine. This is the sixth shipment of the Russian vaccine to Iran and brings the total number of doses to 620,000, enough to vaccinate 310,000 people.

The Islamic Republic reports that so far it has imported a total of 2.95 million doses of vaccine: a very low number compared to other countries in the region. Since vaccination began in Iran two months ago, just 667,202 doses have been administered while in Turkey, Iran’s northwestern neighbor, which has a comparable population, more that 20 million doses have been given to patients.

Cash for Vaccinations?

Besides the slow pace of Iran’s mass vaccination drive, there have been persistent reports that preferential treatment is playing a role. Some municipal officials, Friday Imams and members of their families have been inoculated in instances of alleged queue-jumping.

On Sunday, April 18, Alireza Raeesi, spokesman for the National Coronavirus Taskforce, said that while all Iranians should have been vaccinated for free by March 2022, citizens who want to received the jab ahead of their officially-prescribed turn can “pay for the expenses” and do so.

The next day, however, he retracted his statement and announced instead “all groups in the country will receive free coronavirus vaccination in order of priority”.

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.