It has been seven weeks since new lockdowns came into effect across Iran. On Sunday, December 25 the officially-recorded number of coronavirus fatalities was 119 compared to close to 500 around a month ago. Even if, as many officials believe, the true figure could be double or triple this many, it remains a significant decrease.
A debate continues to rage over when and how Covid-19 vaccinations will get underway. Iran is several steps behind many other countries in procuring a foreign-made vaccine and many officials have expressed a preference for an Iranian-made vaccine instead, even though this might be impossibly far away at a time when new cases and deaths are still being recorded.
The Committee for the Execution of Imam’s Order, an organization under the direct control of the Supreme Leader, is overseeing the development of an Iranian vaccine. In his latest statement about the project, organization chief Mohammad Mokhabber claimed that within the next 40 days “we will have the capacity to produce 1.5 million doses of vaccine per month and in six months we will produce 12 million doses. After satisfying our own needs we will be able to export the vaccine as well. An Iranian coronavirus vaccine is not inferior to vaccines developed in other parts of the world."
Mokhabber said that as of Sunday, December 27, some 36,000 people had registered as volunteers for clinical trials. But “unfortunately”, he said, only 56 people can be accepted onto the trial. According to him, the first trial in a human subject will take place in two or three days.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki went further. “We will prove in the near future that the Iranian vaccine is better than many vaccines that they are making around the world,” he said. “Fortunately, human testing is on the way and people should have faith in the capability of these researchers.”
Namaki reiterated that the coronavirus strain B117 detected in Britain has not been observed in Iran, despite a previous claim by a ministry official that the recent hike in cases and deaths could have been due to this same mutation.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said that production of a domestic vaccine could start by January 19. Elderly people as well as those with underlying illnesses have been prioritized as the first group to be vaccinated, Rahmani Fazli announced. Health workers will reportedly be next to be inoculated, followed by those who have had the most exposure to infected people.
In recent days, however, there has also been talk about buying a vaccine from China. On Saturday, December 26, Karim Hemmati, president of the Iranian Red Crescent, had said his organization intends to independently buy coronavirus vaccines from this country. On Sunday he confirmed: “The Red Crescent will buy one million doses of vaccine from China and the rest, about 20 million doses, will be supplied by the health ministry.” According to Hemmati, the Red Crescent has been directed by the Health Ministry to buy the Chinese vaccine.
In Kurdistan, in the past 24 hours 51 new Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital, bringing the total number of hospitalizations in the province to 168 of whom 56 are in ICUs. With 85 current inpatients, the provincial capital of Sanandaj has the highest number of hospitalizations in Kurdistan. In the same 24 hours, three other patients lost their lives to Covid-19 and the death toll in the province now stands at 1,026.
In the past 24 hours 37 new patients with coronavirus symptoms were hospitalized in Alborz and five patients died, bringing the total known death toll in the province to 2,556. Currently 387 suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 are being treated in hospitals across the province.
In Kermanshah, with the admittance of 71 new Covid-19 patients in the past 24 hours, the number of people currently in hospital due to coronavirus infections has reached 209. In the same time period, two other Covid-19 patients died, bringing the death toll in the province to 1,420.
The number of daily logged Covid-19 fatalities in Fars is still in double digits and, with the death of two more patients in the past 24 hours, the official Covid-19 death toll in the province now stands at 2,987. Provincial health officials believe that even though the rate of admission has been dropping in the past 10 days, the situation in Fars is still unstable. Currently 650 cases of suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases are hospitalized across the province, 141 of them in ICUs.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for December 27, health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the past 24 hours:
Dr. Lari reported that currently no Iranian city is on red alert for new infections, 108 cities are in an orange state of alert and 340 are rated yellow.