Supreme Leader speaks to staff in Tehran, Iran, October 24, 2020
UPDATE, APRIL 7:
President Hassan Rouhani has betrayed the concern of Iran’s leaders that mass vaccinations have not begun, two months after carrying out the first inoculation on State TV.
After receiving the latest report on supply on Tuesday, Rouhani stressed the need to accelerate provision and to support domestic production.
The President also tipped off concern about a lack of clear information: “All measures related to the COVID-19 vaccine should be clearly announced from the moment of arrival until the time of injection.”
UPDATE, APRIL 6:
Coronavirus cases have surged close to their all-time daily record in November.
The Health Ministry reported 13,890 cases on Monday, compared with 14,051 on November 27. Cases have soared 86% in 12 days, from a level of 7,454 on March 25.
Daily deaths rose to 172 on Monday. The weekly average of 122 is a 56% increase from the average of 78 recorded on March 22.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, APRIL 5: Amid a feared “fourth wave” of Iran’s Coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Leader has quietly withdrawn his objection to import of a UK vaccine.
Kianoosh Jahanpoor, the spokesperson for Iran’s Food and Drug Administration, tweeted about the arrival of the first vaccine consignment under the World Health Organization’s COVAX program on Sunday night.
The delivery included more than 700,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Supreme Leader intervened in early January to block the Government’s purchase of vaccines produced by US and UK companies: “I have already said it to Government officials, and now announce it publicly. The import of American and British vaccines is prohibited.”
The order halted the import of 150,000 doses of the vaccine developed by the American company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
Ayatollah Khamenei issued his command after Revolutionary Guards commanders claimed that vaccine manufacturers were seeking to reduce the world’s population by 20%.
President Rouhani held open the door for deliveries from COVAX — “millions of doses of the vaccine have been purchased and provided” — with the formula of vaccines “purchased from reliable companies that are 100% trusted”.
Jahanpoor tweeted on Sunday that the Oxford/AstraZeneca doses weere produced by South Korean firm SK Bioscience. He pointed to more deliveries, totalling 16.8 million doses under COVAX.
Iranian officials say they will import more than 25 million other doses, and produce 25 million other doses inside the country.
Facing A Deadly Surge
The acceptance of the UK vaccine came as Iran officially recorded its highest daily toll since December 22.
The Health Ministry announced 161 deaths on Sunday, compared to 53 on March 12. Iran’s 7-day average has risen almost 30% in the past two weeks.
Daily cases have risen 40% in a week, with 11,680 on Sunday.
Iran has received supplies of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. However, after the first inoculation was given on national TV on March 8, there has been no vaccination program. The Government failed to meets its target of obtaining 2.8 million vaccine doses by March 21.
Iranian officials have also promoted a domestic vaccine for months, announcing trials on human subjects. But there is no fixed date for a rollout.
Just over a week ago, Rouhani said, “I think the peak of this disease is over.” However, on Saturday he told National Coronavirus Task Force, “Unfortunately, the fourth wave of the disease has started in two provinces in the country, and if we do not observe health protocols, this wave will enter other provinces as well.”
Iran’s official death toll is 63,160, with more than 1.93 million confirmed cases.