June 14, 2021
Alireza Raeesi, spokesman of Iran’s coronavirus task force, has chided presidential candidates over promises on the speed of Covid-19 vaccinations. “They think the vaccine is an ice cream,” Raeesi told a government event Monday.
“They wake up in the morning and say they will vaccinate Iran’s population in three months,” the spokesman said. “Perhaps they do not know how to count.” He added that more powerful countries had encountered problems and that Iran would achieve nothing through slogans.
Iran has been slow to vaccinate its 84-million population, with 4.5 million doses administered and 2.7 percent of people covered. John Hopkins figures – tracking Covid-19 globally – give a 0.77 percent of Iranians, or 638,000(link is external), as “fully vaccinated.”
Iran rejected Western vaccines and has relied on a limited quantity of Chinese and Russian vaccines, while saying its pharmaceutical companies are working on several domestic vaccines. Reports in recent days say that vaccination in some provinces has stopped due to shortages.
Official government figures report over 3 million cases of coronavirus with 82,000 deaths, while health officials, some politicians, and some media all say real numbers are much higher.
Several candidates in the June 18 presidential election have promised to speed up nationwide vaccination, partly by allowing the private sector to import vaccines. It was reported in April that the government had approved a number of private companies to begin imports, but it has remained unclear how these vaccines would be distributed(link is external) and how they might square with United States sanctions.