January 26, 2021
Iran is seeing an increase in the number of people with Covid-19 symptoms visiting hospitals and clinics. This increase is relatively small and slow but, during this past weekend, Alireza Raeesi, spokesman for the National Coronavirus Taskforce, warned that the situation in some cities, including Tehran, Isfahan and Kashan, is not favorable.
None of the three domestic vaccines currently being developed in Iran will be ready for several months; and meanwhile, Iranian officials are trying to import a minimum amount of doses over the next month to vaccinate the medical staff and health workers. But they have a difficult task ahead because Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned American and British coronavirus vaccines from entering the country.
Today Dr. Minoo Mohraz, a member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s Scientific Committee, which is also responsible for the evaluation of domestic vaccines under development, announced that Iran would soon import a “recombinant” vaccine made in Sweden. She said that this vaccine has been approved by the Islamic Republic’s health authorities and emphasized that it is neither the Moderna vaccine from the United States, nor Cuba’s vaccine as the later had yet to finish its final clinical trials.
First, said Dr. Mohraz, medical workers would be vaccinated and, after them, those over 70, people suffering from diabetes and heart and lung diseases, and then individuals with other underlying conditions.
Meanwhile, regarding the widely-reported variants of the virus found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and elsewhere, Dr. Mohraz said: “The genetic mutations of coronavirus are worrisome and we fear that, perhaps, existing vaccines might not be effective on variants of coronavirus.” She added that “We must protect ourselves until everybody is vaccinated and we have dealt with further mutations of this virus. But now there are more gatherings, wedding halls have become active and people sit together and eat without wearing masks. If this situation continues we will have a fourth surge” by mid-February.
Hossein Ali Shahriari, chairman of parliament’s Health Committee, reported that Iran would receive 16.8 million doses of vaccine from COVAX in February. (COVIX is an initiative by the World Health Organization and an alliance by many countries around the world to provide equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.) Shahriari said that Iran has paid $52 million for these vaccine doses. He reminded the public that Supreme Leader Khamenei has banned imports of American, English and French vaccines and assured them that such vaccines are not among those that Iran will get from COVAX.