180,000 more victims, price of the Iran-made coronavirus vaccine

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, December 18, 2020—The Iranian people are suffering from the coronavirus with over 186,000 deaths since the pandemic. Now after the start of coronavirus vaccination in some countries, the Iranian people are waiting to see when they can enjoy the coronavirus vaccine in Iran.

But providing the Iranian people the COVID-19 vaccine has remained in an aura of ambiguity, raising concerns and suspicions.

On December 7, IRNA state-run news agency quoted the governor of Iran’s Central Bank Abdolnaser Hemmati as saying the regime “faces obstacles in transferring the payment of the coronavirus vaccine due to the U.S. inhumane sanctions.”

The regime’s president Hassan Rouhani also claimed that the regime wants to purchase the vaccine, but the U.S. hampers the process. Following Rouhani’s remarks, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed U.S. financial sanctions were preventing Iran from making an initial advanced payment to the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC).

However, Bloomberg reported on December 10 that a spokesperson for Gavi, a Geneva-based alliance that manages COVAX payments, said that there was no “legal barrier” to Iran procuring vaccines through COVAX as the U.S. Treasury’s Office on Foreign Assets Control had issued a license covering coronavirus vaccine procurement.

Previously in October 2020 and before the regime started spreading propaganda about sanctions hampering vaccine imports, the website of Iranian regime’s Medical Council declared that there is no worry about the payment of the vaccine through WHO. “With the agreement reached between Iran and the World Health Organization (WHO), this organization has given Iran enough time to pay the advance payment for the purchase of the vaccine and membership in the pre-purchase program for the Corona vaccine [COVAX], and there is no need to worry in this regard,” said deputy health minister Alireza Raisi.

Furthermore, the regime’s foreign ministry spokesperson rejected such claims and said humanitarian aid was not included on the list of any sanctions.

Interestingly, while the world is witnessing the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna corona vaccines, the regime’s officials raise concern over the reliability of foreign-made vaccines of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Hassan Rouhani said, “We don’t know whether these vaccines have side effects or if they are effective.”

MP Zahra Sheikhi also tweeted on December 7 that WHO is planning to “reduce” the world’s population by 15 percent through the coronavirus vaccine.

State-run Entekhab website, Dec. 8, quoted Iranian regime MP Zahra Sheikhi as saying WHO intends to reduce the world’s population through the coronavirus vaccine

State-run Entekhab website, Dec. 8, quoted Iranian regime MP Zahra Sheikhi as saying WHO intends to reduce the world’s population through the coronavirus vaccine

On December 14, Jahan-e Sanat state-run daily quoted the head of the scientific committee of the Coronavirus Task Force Mostafa Ghanei as saying Iran rejected the purchase of Pfizer’s vaccine due to lack of facilities for storing the vaccine under 70 degree Celsius.

The Iranian regime has shown that it is in no hurry to provide the vaccine for the people. It is not clear if they really have any intention to purchase foreign-made vaccine.

On the other hand, almost all Iranian regime officials are publicizing the domestic vaccine. The regime has declared that the domestic vaccine will be produced in the summer of 2021 and will solve Iran’s problems. Regime health minister Saeid Namaki claimed Iran will purchase 16.8 million foreign-made vaccines through COVAX and Iran itself will begin its own vaccine tests in the spring of 2021.

The question is, who benefits from the domestic vaccine?  The Iranian people or the government?

The regime is now pushing Iranian companies and organizations to produce and approve the domestic version of the vaccine. “The Food & Drug Organization is under heavy pressure to approve the vaccine,” Jahan-e Sanat daily quoted the deputy of Iran’s Pharmacists Association Ali Fatemi as saying. “Getting approval from the health ministry means a huge income for the producer.”

In December, the vice speaker of parliament Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi told Iran’s state television that Iranian companies are capable to produce just 10 million doses of vaccine per month.

The head of Iran’s Pharmaceutical Importers Association Naser Riahi told Jahan-e Sanat that there is no accurate information about the domestic vaccine and purchasing the vaccine is much easier for the country than expanding the domestic capability for producing the vaccine. He also revealed that the budget allocated for purchasing the vaccine is just 10 trillion Iranian rials ($238 million).

Doing simple math gives us a general estimation and a better view. Considering one dose of vaccine costs $10 (Pfizer is $20 per dose and Moderna is $10-50 per dose), the regime can only purchase 23.8 million doses with this budget. Adding 16.8 million doses that the regime’s health minister promised to purchase, the regime is about to provide 40.6 million doses of the vaccine to cover 20.3 million of Iran’s  80 million population. Therefore, 60 million of the Iranian people need 120 million doses of domestic vaccine. It will take 12 months for the regime to produce this volume of vaccines.

This is of course a very optimistic estimation, considering the regime fulfills all its promises.

Currently, more than 186,000 people have lost their lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran, with 700-1,200 deaths recorded daily. At this rate, over 180,000 more people will lose their lives before the production of the first domestic vaccine, and tens of thousands more will be added to the victims before all the population gains access to vaccination. This is the price of the domestic vaccine for the Iranian people. Meanwhile the mullahs pursue their economic ambitions, ignoring the people’s lives as they have shown to date.

The regime has a terrible track record in hiding the truth, reporting fabricated figures, and giving hollow promises since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran.

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