What Is Behind The Coronavirus Vaccine Crisis In Iran? – OpEd
By Cyrus Yaqubi
While some countries, including Middle Eastern countries, have begun coronavirus public vaccination, the head of the health committee of Iranian Parliament said, there is currently no news of vaccines being purchased by Iran, this is while Iran has suffered the most casualties from coronavirus in the Middle East. Perhaps in the early days of pandemic, few people, even among experts, thought the corona vaccine would be made in not only a year, but also be available for public vaccination. Now this has happened, and it can be called a scientific miracle, since in the shortest time in history, a coronavirus vaccine is made available from the laboratory to public vaccination.
One of the vaccines that has received the necessary licenses for public vaccinations is Pfizer-Biontech vaccine. Medical staff and others in countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and Canada already began vaccination, and other EU member states are scheduled to begin vaccination on December 27.
In the Middle East late last week, Saudi Arabia began vaccination. According to the official Saudi news agency (WAS), the Ministry of Health has started registering citizens as well as people living across the country to be vaccinated. The vaccine is free for Saudi nationals and foreign residents.
There are also similar reports from the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Turkey about the Public vaccination process. The Iraqi Ministry of Health has even announced the signing of an agreement with Pfizer to import the vaccine in the coming days. However, no decision has been made in Iran to purchase the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine.
A few days ago, “Mustafa Ghanei”, the head of the scientific committee of Anti-coronavirus Headquarters, said on television that Iran had announced to COVAX that it did not want the Pfizer vaccine because the vaccine has requirements such as minus 70 degrees Celsius for storage and transportation and these facilities do not exist in our aircraft and transportation system.
But Shahram Adamnejad, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Roads and Urban Development, announced: “Iran’s air transport system is ready to import the coronavirus vaccine and meets the conditions announced by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education.
Also, according to ISNA, Touraj Dehghan Zanganeh, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, emphasized on the same point that we have no problem importing coronavirus vaccines of different types. The Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mohammad Islami, responded by saying, “Airlines have no problem moving and transporting the Coronavirus vaccine, and we are ready to transport this vaccine.
According to ISNA, Kianoosh Jahanpour, spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, said that “the cold chain is not just the transport from the origin to the destination airport, but includes the entire route of vaccine to the target group to a remote town and village. The cold chain required for this vaccine must be observed for all days of arrival, distribution and inoculation, and temperatures below minus 70 degrees Celsius is a technological weakness because of cold storage and distribution. Certainly, approved vaccines with a higher storage temperature and easier and more accessible cold chain conditions have a comparative advantage”.
Therefore, with the announcement of a technological weakness in Iran, it seems that the case of procuring the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine is closed forever.
But the US Food and Drug Administration approved another vaccine, Euro news reported yesterday. Modrena’s coronavirus vaccine has the comparative advantage that Kianoosh Jahanpour had in mind, because with over 90% effectiveness, the cold chain of this vaccine is about minus 20 degrees Celsius.
While the European Union has ordered 80 million doses, Britain more than 7 million doses, Japan 50 million, South Korea 20 million and Sweden 7 million doses are among the Moderna vaccine buyers, due to incompetence and corruption of mullahs’ government in Iran, none of the officials in Iran care about public health and only think about the survival of their regime.
The head of the parliamentary health committee in Iran yesterday implicitly said, there was no news of the coronavirus vaccine now. ISNA reported that Hossein-Ali Shahriari said: “So far, we have not been able to provide the necessary foreign funds to buy the coronavirus vaccine and transfer this money abroad, because to procure the coronavirus vaccine, we need to provide financial resources in Francs, But the money we have cannot be converted into Francs, and we have not yet been able to raise that money and transfer it abroad. So, our only hope is to produce the coronavirus vaccine domestically. But the most optimistic experts believe that we will not be able to mass-produce the domestic vaccine before June next year.”
And according to Reza Malek Zadeh, Ex-Deputy Minister of Health, who resigned and in his resignation letter on Friday, November 20, wrote: Your Excellency’s unscientific remarks about the production of the Iranian coronavirus vaccine, which is still in the early stages, and you claimed to have produced, is to get rid of the problem all together.
But the shocking fact about the impediment to import the Coronavirus vaccine is that importing the vaccine from reputable global companies will deprive the regime affiliates of the huge profits associated with so called “domestic vaccine” since the medicine mafia is under control of IRGC. The state-run Jahan-e-Sanat newspaper, on December 14, acknowledges this fact: “The Food and Drug Administration is under a lot of pressure to approve domestically produced vaccines and coronavirus medicine, because getting approval from the Ministry of Health means a huge income for the owner.”
Given the current situation, it seems that it is not possible to import vaccines to Iran and domestic vaccines do not have a bright future, and as a result, the hard days of coronavirus as the world approaches the end of the pandemic will not end for Iranians.
But according to Mahboobfar, a member of the government Anti-Coronavirus headquarters, when people see that in many countries, including our neighbors such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the disease has subsided due to the vaccination, I think in such a situation people will express their anger in some other way because today people are under pressure of quarantine and economic problems, and they have no patience left. “If the situation continues in such a way that neighboring countries do the vaccination and we are still waiting for July, this social resilience may come to an end and manifest itself in the form of street protests.”