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Government Admits Failure to Procure Vaccines from Overseas

March 26, 2021
OstanWire
2 min read

The Iranian government has admitted its Covid-19 vaccine rollout has failed and placed the blame on COVAX, the global initiative to ensure vaccines are shared fairly around the world. From now on, a government spokesman has said, the country will mostly rely on domestic vaccine production. 

Kianoush Jahanpour, speaking for the Food and Drug Administration, announced on Thursday that the 2.8 million coronavirus vaccines due to arrive in Iran via COVAX by March 2021 had not yet been delivered. This, he said, was due to “a global organization not keeping its promise”, adding that there had been “many restrictions” and obstacles blocking the plans.

All in all Iran expects to procure more than 21 million doses of vaccine via COVAX: enough to inoculate 10.5 million Iranians out of a population of more than 80 million. But delays to the initial shipment have cast doubt on the viability of the plans overall.

Jahanpour also reported delays to the production of the Russian Sputnik vaccine inside Iran and other countries outside the Russian Federation, citing an insufficient supply of raw materials, including resin and gel.

Three days before Thursday’s admission, Jahanpour had also told a radio program that 700,000 doses of vaccine from India, China and Russia had been so far been distributed in Iran. He added that India had promised to deliver 375,000 further doses of vaccine out of a planned 500,000 to Iran by March 20, but these too had been blocked by the Indian Prosecutor’s Office.

From now on, Jahanpour said, the majority of the public vaccinations in Iran would be based on "national production".

Iranian media outlets have also remarked on the slow progress of Iran’s vaccination program. On March 16, Hamshahri newspaper quoted the head of the Ministry of Health’s National Committee on Covid-19 Epidemiology as saying that just 60,000 people had received a shot so far. Given that each person requires two doses for a high level of immunity, he said, it meant a maximum of 30,000 people had so far been made safe.

That said, Iran’s approach to vaccination – whether it has chosen to give each person a single vaccination first and then the second injection within 12 weeks, or whether it is vaccinating individuals with a first dose followed by a strict three-week injection before ensuring others receive their first dose – has not been clarified.

Related coverage: 

Chinese Government Donates 250,000 Doses of Vaccine to Iran

Iran Braces for New Wave of Covid-19 Infections as "Fakhra" Vaccine Unveiled

IranWire Exclusive: Document Proves the Iranian Government Ignored Warnings about Coronavirus

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