“We concealed the figures on fatalities from the World Health Organization,” said Dr. Alireza Zali, director of Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce on Wednesday, August 11. “When the WHO experts came to Iran, we constantly asked them to praise Iran’s health system to the media instead of consulting with them.”
The senior physician made the disclosure on Wednesday, August 11 during a conversation with Islamic Republic Radio and Television News Agency. In the same interview, Zali claimed Iran had just a five-day stock of vaccines left.
“When the first case of coronavirus was observed in Qom,” he said, “I asked for Qom to be quarantined and said [parliamentary] elections must not be held in that city. But some people ridiculed me, said that this disease could be easily controlled.
“We turned international aid back from the airport – and Doctors without Borders, even though we didn’t know much about this virus and hadn’t taken advantage of international consultations.”
Worse news, he said, was on the way to Iran. “The Delta [variant] lasted three months in India and they vaccinated everybody quickly. We mustn’t obsess over the price of vaccines and buy them even at twice the price to protect people.
“Our ambassadors to foreign countries weren’t trying to get hold of vaccines. I talked to the Japanese ambassador and he said that the Iranian ambassador never asked for vaccines. What kind of diplomacy is this?”
“We spent €720 million on Remdesivir [a drug used to treat severe Covid-19] but we should have spent that on vaccines. How come, under sanctions, we can buy petroleum equipment at three times the price but not do the same for vaccines?”
The only way to save the country, Dr. Zali said, was to implement a two-week nationwide lockdown, starting immediately.
Iran is in the throes of a devastating “fifth wave” of coronavirus infections spurred by the arrival of the Delta variant some months ago.
Hospitals are overwhelmed, with many patients sleeping in corridors, and Covid-19 has been claiming the lives of at least 500 Iranians every day.
The true figure is likely to be higher. Of the 260,000 coronavirus tests administered every day around 40,000 are coming back positive.