Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei being vaccinated against COVID-19 in June 2021

Iran’s Ban On Vaccines Led To 75,000 More Covid Deaths - New Research

Wednesday, 06/07/2023

A team of medical experts in a damning report claim that over 75,000 Covid deaths could have been prevented in Iran if the regime had permitted global vaccines.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ruled out importing United States and British made Covid vaccines in January 2021, arguing that Western countries could not be trusted and Iran was well placed to develop its own vaccines or should take them from more reliable sources.

At the time, the US-German Pfizer, US-made Moderna and the British-made AstraZeneca were the only vaccines approved internationally.

But in a new paper published in association with the British Medical Journal and Yale called, ‘A quantitative evaluation of the impact of vaccine roll-out rate and coverage on reducing deaths from COVID-19: a counterfactual study on the impact of the delayed vaccination programme in Iran,’ a team of experts have found evidence to show mass neglect on the part of the regime.

The paper, compiled by experts of Iranian descent, Mahan Ghafari, Sepanta Hosseinpour, Mohammad Saeid Rezaee-Zavareh, Stefan Dascalu, Somayeh Rostamian, Kiarash Aramesh, Kaveh Madani and Shahram Kordasti, compared Iran with eight model countries with similar income brackets and dominant COVID-19 vaccine types.

The analysis revealed that faster roll-outs were associated with higher numbers of averted deaths. "While Iran's percentage of fully vaccinated individuals would have been similar to Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey under counterfactual roll-out rates, adopting Turkey's rates could have averted up to 50,000 more deaths, whereas following Bangladesh's rates could have led to up to 52,800 additional loss of lives in Iran,” said the paper.

“Also, following Bahrain's model as an upper bound benchmark, Iran could have averted 75,300 deaths throughout the pandemic, primarily in the under 50 age groups.”

Just last year, it was announced in a shock move that Iran's Judiciary had accepted a lawsuit against the Supreme Leader and others for delay in mass vaccination and thousands of preventable deaths.

The 22-page litigation called for the prosecution of Khamenei and other officials, including former president Hassan Rouhani and member of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce, for "manslaughter of over 100,000 Iranians." Lawyers who filed the case, Mohammad-Reza Faghihi and Arash Kaykhosravi, were among six people arrested in August 2021 apparently after meeting to discuss their legal action over Covid, but later freed.

While Khamenei banned the Western vaccines, hundreds of millions of dollars were distributed among government-run companies with no experience in vaccine development to produce a homegrown variant.

COVIran Barekat COVID-19 vaccine developed in Iran

One vaccine that was introduced into the local market in June 2021 was Barakat, developed by an affiliate of the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order Foundation, a charitable-cum-business entity controlled by Khamenei’s office. As a result, Iran, which was receiving very few vaccines from Russia and China until August lost precious months to vaccinate the majority of its population.

The Barakat vaccine with delays in production has only been used for inoculating a fraction of the population. Critics call these decisions and failures “Covid mismanagement”, which the lawsuit tried to pursue.

Vaccination suddenly jumped in August with Chinese and AstraZeneca vaccines, as the Khamenei ban was rescinded when Ebrahim Raisi, Khamenei’s candidate for president assumed office. Figures of total deaths are unclear due to the secretive nature of the regime, but officially stand around 150,000 according to declared numbers given to the World Health Organization.

Human Rights Watch called Khamenei’s ban “moves to politicize vaccine acquisition” but acknowledged that US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions thwarted Iran’s access to vaccines.

This assessment is also questionable, because medicines are exempt from US sanctions and Iran regularly imports billions of dollars of drugs and raw material to produce medication from Europe, India and elsewhere.

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