Purchase of Russia’s COVID vaccine sparks debate in Iran

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Tehran, Iran – An announcement by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif final week that Russia’s major coronavirus vaccine candidate has turn out to be the primary accepted overseas vaccine in Iran sparked a fierce debate.

Zarif was in Moscow as a part of a diplomatic journey throughout the Caucasus when he introduced the approval of Sputnik V for emergency use and mentioned Iran goals to begin co-producing the vaccine within the near future.

The first cargo of 10,000 doses is predicted to arrive in Iran on Thursday whereas as much as 400,000 doses are anticipated in a number of instalments earlier than the present Iranian calendar 12 months ends in late March.

Healthcare employees and extremely weak teams are first in line to obtain the restricted doses.

However, public and well being officers have been locked in a debate over the vaccine.

The first main message of mistrust geared toward Sputnik V got here from one in every of Iran’s high infectious illness consultants, Minoo Mohraz, who’s a number one determine within the nation’s efforts to supply native vaccines.

She mentioned she won’t use the vaccine as a result of it has but to be accepted by the World Health Organization or the European Medicines Agency, including that Iran was importing it as a result of “Iranian people’s bad fortune”.

Her criticism garnered a harsh rebuke from Kianoush Jahanpour, spokesman of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration, who mentioned Mohraz had no “responsibility or status” to weigh in on overseas COVID-19 vaccines.

Iran’s well being minister Saeed Namaki mentioned any claims the nation is importing unsafe vaccines quantity to “malignancy” and “national treason”, including that Sputnik V was bashed for “economic interests”.

“To the dismay of many who can’t bear to see it, we will give the vaccines to our own families so everyone will know we consider people’s health above our own,” Namaki mentioned on TV.

Several Iranian officers didn’t reply to Al Jazeera’s requests for remark.

‘Diplomatic considerations’

Iran’s authorities, in the meantime, rejected claims it’s buying Sputnik V as a consequence of political positive factors.

On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of workers, Mahmoud Vaezi, mentioned Iran might have accessed the vaccine – which, in August final 12 months, turned the primary vaccine on this planet to obtain nationwide approval – a lot earlier as a consequence of its good relations with Russia.

“If the vaccine were to be purchased recklessly and without expert evaluation, the process wouldn’t take this long,” Vaezi mentioned.

However, nearly 100 members of the board of Iran’s Medical Council signed a letter addressed to President Rouhani saying buying Sputnik V earlier than worldwide approval might be “dangerous”.

“It appears that diplomatic considerations in this vaccine’s purchase prevented its standard evaluation,” they wrote.

Hosseinali Shahriari, who heads the parliament’s well being fee, mentioned he wouldn’t use the vaccine, suggesting any overseas vaccines ought to first be examined on officers.

According to peer-reviewed outcomes printed on Tuesday in The Lancet, one of many world’s main medical journals, Sputnik V is 91.6 % efficient in opposition to COVID-19, placing the vaccine amongst high candidates on this planet.

The vaccine, which has been developed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, has been given regulatory approval in 16 international locations to this point and is awaiting emergency use approval by the WHO.

Sputnik V’s producers say they’ve acquired requests for the vaccination of greater than 1.2 billion individuals from greater than 50 international locations. The vaccine works in two totally different doses administered 21 days aside.

Mahmoud Sadeghi, a former member of parliament, mentioned in a tweet that COVID-19 vaccines put up a mirror to Iranian politics and life within the nation.

“While official daily number of victims fluctuate between two and three digits, we reject the tested Pfizer vaccine because it’s American! Then we announce that we will soon produce an Iranian vaccine. Then we take refuge in the untested Russian vaccine!” he wrote.

The politician was referring to an order final month by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei that banned imports of vaccines from the United States and United Kingdom.

It seems that Iranian officers think about the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be Swedish as, on Wednesday, the well being minister introduced that 4.2 million doses of the vaccine shall be imported this month via WHO’s COVAX initiative.

The human trials of COVIran Barekat, Iran’s main vaccine candidate, began in late December and authorities hope they’ll start utilizing it in massive numbers within the coming months.

No knowledge has been printed on the vaccine’s efficacy because it has but to clear human trials, however authorities have mentioned the vaccine works in opposition to the COVID-19 variant first discovered within the UK and volunteers haven’t skilled any critical negative effects.

Two different Iranian vaccine candidates are anticipated to begin human trials quickly.


Iran has been the hardest-hit nation within the Middle East when it comes to fatalities with greater than 58,000 deaths from 1.Four million coronavirus instances.

For the previous few months, Iranian social media has been crammed with discussions on vaccines.

Hashtags have been geared toward shopping for secure vaccines and expressing mistrust with the Russian vaccine.

However, probably the most recurring hashtag has been #BuyVaccines which gained prominence once more this week after two well-loved former footballers died of coronavirus.

Earlier this week, Iran’s state-run broadcaster mentioned social media tendencies are “psychological operations” by foreign-based Farsi-language media geared toward sowing mistrust.