The number of deaths in Iran since Covid-19 began has been 300,000 higher than previous years, suggesting pandemic deaths may be more than officially reported.

Iran has reported around 140,000 deaths from Covid since the beginning of the pandemic, the Middle East’s highest official level, leaving 160,000 more deaths unexplained.

The latest data from Iran’s national organization for civil registration puts average deaths at 370,000 thousand people for the four years up to March 20, 2020 when the pandemic began. In the first year (ending March 20, 2021) deaths rose to 510,000 and in the second year to 530,000.

Iran's judiciary accepted in March a lawsuit against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and others for manslaughter “of over 100,000 Iranians" after Khamenei in January 2021 ruled out importing United States- and British-made Covid vaccines. Using calculations based on statistics like burials in Tehran, some have suggested that the true number of deaths could be as high as 500,000.

If Iran’s Covid deaths were 300,000, the rate relative to population would be comparable to Brazil, the United States and many European countries.

Researchers tracking the pandemic globally have noted that “excess deaths” reflect many factors, including those indirectly due to Covid including stretched health system.

A study published by the Lancet this month suggested that in the first two years of the pandemic − up to December 31, 2021 −there were globally 18 million excess deaths, with only 6 million officially attributed to Covid.

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