A woman is injected in Iran’s first trial of a domestically-produced Coronavirus vaccine, December 2020

The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards says the Coronavirus vaccine aims to kill hundreds of millions of people, reducing the world’s population by 20%.

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi pushed the conspiracy theory in an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency, “Today, the owners of companies that produce Corona vaccines believe that the world’s population is large and should be reduced by 20%. This reduction can only be achieved by increasing mortality.”

The commander continued, “According to available documents, these institutions have manipulated and infected the virus themselves. How can they be trusted in the situation? I do not trust them.”

Naqdi did not produce the “available documents”.

A Coronavirus Split Within System

The comments reinforce a split within Iran’s system over the approach to the pandemic, which has officially killed 55,337 Iranians amid 1,231,429 cases.

Central Bank head Abdolnasser Hemmati said on December 24 that Iran had obtained 200 million Euros ($244 million) for purchase of 16.8 million vaccines doses after the US Treasury waived American sanctions.

But Naqdi objected, “We do not recommend injecting foreign coronavirus vaccines to the personnel of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij [paramilitary members].”

The Rouhani Government has since hailed the first tests on human subjects of a domestically-produced vaccine.

President Hassan Rouhani declared on Saturday that Iran has triumphed in the “first, second, and third waves” of the pandemic, while enjoining Iranians to continue observing protocols for social distancing.

Iran’s deaths and cases soared to record levels this autumn, with fatalities increasing 150% and cases more than tripling between early October and the end of November.

But last month, belated Government restrictions — including curfews and the closures of businesses and public spaces — brought the daily death toll down to its lowest level since September, with cases only 50% higher than the rate in early October.

See also Coronavirus: Iran Daily Deaths at Lowest Point Since Early October