Vaccine distribution in Iran will need to be orchestrated by international experts if it hopes to be efficient, equitable, and effective. Vaccine availability has been deliberately suppressed by edicts from the regime’s leader. At the beginning of the year, Khamenei stopped the distribution of 100,000 vaccines, announcing that doses manufactured in the US or Europe would be banned from import.
Khamenei has indeed confessed that he would sooner choose to violate Islam if he was forced to choose between conserving the ruling administration and its theocratic principles. The open killing of hundreds of Iranians in the uprising of November 2019, indicates the administrations’ apathy to its people. It is unsurprising that they would then allow the deaths of hundreds of thousands through the pandemic.
In 2019 Amnesty International noted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tendency to shoot to kill, in response to protestors throughout the country. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) later reported that the deal toll sat around 1,500 while 12,000 people faced imprisonment, torture, and possible execution.
Reuters confirmed in a special report on December 23, 2019, about the deadly crackdown on November nationwide protests in Iran the death toll of 1500 that was announced by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) on December 15, 2019.
The effects of the pandemic became prevalent in the next year, with the authorities doing their best to disseminate propaganda that under reports the effects of the virus. The Iranian Health Ministry reports the Covid-19 death toll at under 70,000, wherein the (NCRI) and (PMOI / MEK Iran) reveal the number to be more than 264,000.
Khamenei’s decision not to utilize resources to assist the alleviation of poverty, forced work, to finance the Health Ministry’s Interventions, or procure vaccines indicates how helpful the pandemic has been suppressing dissidents of the corrupt regime.
Initially, Iran’s Health Ministry planned to leave the acquisition of vaccines in the hands of its Board of Trustees. However, under pressure from private entities, it permitted pharmaceutical companies and business leaders to do their own purchasing on behalf of the ministry. Owners of the entities in question (such as the IRGC or regime-associated business) could then profit from the resale.
The response to this was critical and as a result, the regime tried to deny corrupt intent, insisting that vaccines would be free as promised. However, promises such as the 2.8 million doses of vaccines assured to be in circulation by the end of the Persian year were also broken. One million of these doses were supposedly coming from Russia, however, a fraction of these reached Iran, with no one publicly claiming them.
Amongst the undersupply it was reported in independent media, that government officials and well-connected persons were buying early access to the vaccines through the Health Ministry or directly through private companies affiliated with the IRGC. The regime was obviously denied this however the Health Ministry confirmed what was reported.
Simultaneously, while the distributors were preoccupied with profits, the government had no interest in intervening, since the inequitable distribution would assist and ensure the prolonged outbreak of the disease whilst protecting authority figures and wealthy people who would be targeted by the unrest.
The nationwide demonstrations by Iranian pensioners and the significant clashes with the IRGC in Sistan and Baluchistan suggest that large-scale unrest is night. It is unthinkable that the dictatorship will change its public health policy or its pattern of repression and begin acting for the best interests of the Iranian people.