"We have been dealt more damage by Covid-19 than we were in eight years of war," Iran’s deputy health minister has said. In a speech welcoming the new president of Gorgan University of Medical Sciences, Younes Panahi also issued a fresh call for people to stick to health protocols as Omicron sweeps through Iran.
“We know we’ll reach the sixth peak in the first week of March,” Panahi said. “Our advice has always been to follow all health procedures in full, in addition to getting vaccinated.”
Panahi did not make it clear if by “damage” he was talking about fatalities, casualties or the economic cost of Covid-19 compared to the Iran-Iraq war. Some 1-2m people were injured during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988, and around 500,000 lost their lives.
The Health Ministry’s official statistics put the number of deaths from Covid-19 in Iran at 134,000, but due to under-reporting and under-testing, experts say the true figure is likely to be two to three times higher. In line with this, 17,000 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded 24 hours leading up to Thursday, February 17, but even health officials have pointed out that the real figure could be four times the number of cases detected through testing.