The Islamic Republic Interior Minister confirmed 4 students have died of COVID-19 in Iran, but claimed “their death had nothing to do with reopening of schools!” Ahmad Vahidi failed to mention how he reached that conclusion. He emphasized universities and schools continue their activities as normal. Vahidi mentioned there might be some changes in “coloring of the map” and the National COVID-19 Task Force will decide about the changes “soon.” He did not offer more details.
Despite Omicron ravaging through the country and hospitals being overloaded, Interior Minister announced “traveling during Persian New Year Holidays (March 20-April 3)” is allowed. It is worth mentioning, last year, the Islamic Republic allowed traveling in order to fine travelers a few days later and blame the surge in cases on travelers! The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism “predicts” unprecedented number of trips during the holidays, laying the groundwork for any spike in April.
Meanwhile, Fars continues to struggle with rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Kermanshah had more than 400 patients admitted and Khorasan Razavi hospitalized more than 350 in the past 24 hours. Ardabil‘s uptick in infections and deaths continues while Khuzestan has a difficult time accommodating all critical pediatric patients.
While some studies show and governments move towards the 4th dose of vaccines for this fall, lack of trust between people and the regime has led to slow vaccination in Iran. In Markazi alone, more than 70,000 (5% of eligible population) have refused to receive ANY vaccine while the 3rd dose vaccination remains below 30% across the nation. According to official definition of “full vaccination” and Ministry of Health data, since February 9, only 22,490,043 (26.77% of Iran population) are vaccinated against COVID-19 with these vaccines. It is estimated that more than 53 million Iranians are at risk of contracting Omicron. The majority of shots used in Iran are the ineffective Sinopharm and COVIran Barekat. WHO recommends 3 doses of Sinopharm to be effective against Delta but studies have found the vaccine ineffective against Omicron.
The Islamic Republic “Supreme Leader” banned the reliable US and UK made vaccines, leading to tsunami of deaths during Delta wave. Khamenei promoted his foundation’s shot, COVIran Barekat, which failed miserably. Multiple “homegrown” vaccines, including PastoCoVac, COVPars, Fakhra, Noora, Spikogen, never met the expectations and none of them has published their results or received recognition/approval from international health organizations.
The Ministry of Health Spokesperson claimed 223 have died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and 22,073 tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Number of daily tests performed in the country continue to decline despite experts advice to have a more active case finding. Professor of Epidemiology at Tehran University believes these numbers must be multiplied by 7 and Civil Registration Organization data show more than 323,000 have died of the disease since February 2020.
Total: 6,983,635 (+22,073)
Dead: 135,499 (+223)
Critical: 3,918 (-167)
Active Cases: 308,383 (-467)
Total Tests: 46,780,865
Cover: Peyman Hamidipour