Dr. A. Motamedi is a doctor from city of Mashhad (East of Iran) and she has twenty years of experience in medical management in this city and other cities in Khorasan Razavi province. This interview analyses the Iranian situation in the face of the pandemic.
How does the Iranian government manage the COVID-19 epidemic?
To answer this question, it should be said that the COVID management in Iran can be divided into two stages:
- the stage before making the vaccine
- the stage after producing the corona vaccine
In the first stage, disease control and management were basically based on WHO protocols, ie limited quarantine and maintaining social distance and closure of many jobs, but as the media and health experts have repeatedly said, these protocols were always far from the facts, which caused the first stage of disease management in Iran to experience three waves of the disease, and the rate of the mortality in Iran during this stage was always higher than other countries based on the population.
But in the second stage, which was after producing the vaccine, the government actually started a massacre of the Iranian people with the ban and other kinds of restrictions on the import of the vaccine.
By massacre, I mean the vaccine blockade, which could prevent the spread of the disease.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa banning the import of British and American vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) on February 7, 2021, two months after the implementation of the global vaccination plan, and assigned the production of vaccines to one of his financial subdivisions, the Barakat Foundation. He transferred $ 1 billion to the financial holding under his supervision, while his fatwa led to the killing of tens of thousands of people in eight months.
Are there any restrictions on preventing the spread of the virus?
In the previous question, I mentioned that the government applied two stages of management regarding the Corona, but I must point out that even in the first stage, which was based on the protocols of the World Health Organization, the government permitted the Shiite religious rites of mass gathering which resulted in the second wave and was very effective in creation of the third wave. They actually manipulated the statistics of the sick people to be able to proceed with the days commemorating the death of Khomeini. The end of the second wave coincided with the beginning of the month of Muharram, which is the martyrdom of the third Imam of the Shiites and there were a lot of mass gathering rituals and as a result, it led to the beginning of the third wave. In order to maintain its religious rituals, the government neglected quarantine practices and social distance in religious gatherings.
Is the government sufficiently prepared to deal with Corona?
Iran has one of the oldest treatment systems in the Middle East and Asia. By interfering in this structure, the government prevented the proper functioning of this medical system, and the entry of non-specialist health managers practically rendered this specialized field inefficient and caused this complicated and dangerous situation.
Currently, the Chief of Staff of Corona has been handed over to an IRGC commander, who is the Interior Minister of Iran. This shows the health of the people is not an important issue for the regime
Are people satisfied with the government's decisions and management regarding the epidemic? What is public opinion about the government's policy in the face of the epidemic?
To answer these questions, I would like to draw your attention to some important statistics that have recently been published by government organizations, including the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.
Following the corona epidemic, more than 51,000 Iranian children have lost one of their parents due to this disease, which means, children who have no guardian to take care of them. You can imagine how this will affect their lives.
According to another statistic published by the Deputy Minister of Education of Iran, 30% of children do not have access to virtual education, which was used to educate children during the Corona epidemic, i.e. out of fourteen million Iranian students, three Half a million do not have access to education. This statistic shows that the real victims of the government's policies regarding corona are Iranian children.
How has the virus affected the Iranian economy? How does the government manage the economic crisis caused by the corona?
In fact, the impact of the virus on the global economy has been examined through various statistics of international organizations such as the World Bank and what these organizations have said about the impact on the economy. Many countries have reported slowing global economic growth during the Corona pandemic. The rate of decline in economic growth was less than negative 10%, and in industrialized countries, it was less than negative 2 to 6 percent, but with the production of the vaccine, the decline in global economic growth stopped within three months. and now it stands at a positive two percent. In Iran, however, the slowdown in economic growth is about 52%, meaning that Iran's economic output has declined from $ 450 billion to less than $ 191 billion, although Iranian officials attribute the slowdown to sanctions. But if we are careful with the average slowdown in world economic growth with the corona, the possibility of such a slowdown is impossible only with sanctions, but sanctions and the corona combined with the management and inefficiency of the system have led to such an economic catastrophe.
Now the Iran economy has created difficult days for the Iranian people. Iran has the highest inflation rate among the countries of the world and the per capita income of Iranians is equal to the per capita income of poor countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, Suleiman Islands. The inflation rate on basic goods and vitalities such as food and medicine have exposed 30 percent of Iranians to severe calorie deficiency.
Is the actual number of corona deaths known?
There are two types of statistics in Iran
- government statistics which is engineered
- real statistics that are between two to four times the government statistics which can be obtained from the death statistics of Iranians which shows Iranian mortality rate has risen by 80 percent in the last two years( since the Corona pandemic)
The average daily death rate of Iranians was one thousand people in a non-COVID condition, which is 370,000 people a year, but with the outbreak of the corona epidemic, more than 590,000 deaths were recorded. and in the four-month of the Iranian new year, we had 220,000 deaths, which shows 90,000 more than the same number as the last year. Based on this, it can be concluded that the real number of COVID deaths in Iran is almost the massacre of the Iranian people by government policies. One of the officials said that the number of deaths due to COVID is now more than the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq.
On average, one Iranian was killed every six minutes during the Iran-Iraq war, but the death toll due to Corona is one person every two minutes.
Are the population vaccinated? How is the vaccination process going?
The vaccination process in Iran can be divided into two stages
- during the previous government of Hassan Rouhani
- the government of Ebrahim Raisi
During Rouhani's government, the general policy of Rouhani and Khamenei was not to import the vaccine because they had their plans and really didn't care about the mortality of the people.
The Iranian leader issued a fatwa banning US and British vaccines, blocking the import of vaccines from Kovacs and other developed countries, although as of propaganda Rouhani entered into contracts with China to purchase the vaccine, which was supposed to buy 50 million doses of Sino Farm vaccine and also ten million doses AstraZeneca and one million Sputnik but these vaccines did not enter Iran, so only less than 20 million doses of vaccine were injected during the eight months of Rouhani's government. This was very low compared to global statistics and only five percent of the population was fully vaccinated.
With the beginning of the presidency of Raisi, we saw the release of vaccines from customs, and now twenty percent of the population has been vaccinated. In less than two months since the presidency, thirty-five percent of the population has received one dose of the vaccine due to this policy.
Considering these statistics we realize that tens of thousands of Iranians lost their lives just due to the political conflict between the two factions of the regime. According to the government statements in the fourth and fifth wave of the outbreak more than 70 thousand Iranians died of COVID. In August 2021 which was called Black August, the daily death toll was always over 500 people. According to government statistics, 45 thousand people died in August due to COVID.
What is the condition of the hospitals? Are the COVID-19 patients under observation? Have the hospitals collapsed due to a lack of resources?
As I explained in previous sections, the Iranian health care system was a modern and established system in the Middle East and Asia. We have 140,000 hospital beds in Iran which 40,000 were assigned to the COVID patients.
In the fifth wave alone, there was a need for 70,000 beds for COVID patients, and this put a lot of pressure on the medical system and caused the military field hospitals to be used, but undoubtedly this pressure had effects in the other areas of medical treatment. The fact is that the beds of heart patients and emergency patients have been used to hospitalize COVID patients. The truth is that the correct statistics in this field have not been published yet and only after this situation is over we can realize the damage to Iran's healthcare structure.
The collapse of the treatment system means that they are not able to provide services to patients in need, and unfortunately, this situation occurred and many reports of hospitalizing patients in various places such as hospital mosques and corridor floors have been seen and there was severe pressure decline in oxygen-producing devices or they used one oxygen device for several people. The lack of intensive care beds that led to the loss of patients is all a sign of the collapse of the treatment system.
Does the collapse of infrastructure in the Iranian medical system mostly involve the withdrawal of specialized forces?
The departure of thousands of physicians and nurses from Iran and the lack of specialized personnel and the use of non-specialized personnel in the treatment of COVID patients such as various medical interns are signs of structural collapse and infrastructure of the Iranian medical system and unfortunately was an important factor in increasing mortality.
How has the coronavirus affected employment?
In previous sections, I mentioned that Iran's economy has shrunk by almost 60 percent in less than three years, and this is an important indicator of the impact of ineffective government policies that play on people's livelihoods. The economic impact of Corona on society can not be accurately assessed yet. Only some statistics can be mentioned. In the field of tourism alone, more than 20,000 billion tomans (Iran Currency) have been lost during the corona epidemic.
How does water and electricity shortage affect epidemic management in Iran?
The issue of urban and industrial power outages in the fifth wave of Corona was very important in Iran. During the heat of summer in July and August, we witnessed power outages in Iranian cities, for several hours a day. Electrical appliances are used to treat patients. So services to the patients were interrupted. There have been many reports of deaths of COVID patients during power outages, but these reports have not been completed. It should be noted that a large proportion of COVID patients were treated at home. And they were treated by supplying oxygen capsules from oxygen factories. Due to power outages, many oxygen factories, whether in hospitals or factories, were not able to produce the oxygen needed by patients, and therefore there were many patients who were severely damaged, although statistics on the lack of oxygen due to power outages are not available in Iran
Has Iran received any health or economic assistance from neighboring countries and allies to manage Corona?
Although medical professionals in Iran have repeatedly asked government officials to seek help from international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Red Cross to control the Fifth Corona peak, government officials have not complied with the request of health professionals and experts. It seems that the reason for the government's refusal to request help is to prevent the revelation of the health facts of Iran's medical treatment structure.
In his last interview in August, Dr. Mohammad Reza Zali, Commander of the National Anti-Corona Headquarters, stated that world health officials had offered help to the Iranian health system (July 2020), but that Iranian health officials had submitted false reports to international organizations trying to show that the situation was OK and they did not need any help.
Given that the Iranian government calls itself the leader of the resistance-oriented countries (Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq), it has repeatedly sent healthcare shipments to these bankrupt countries, while the Iranian people needed these healthcare items.
The government-controlled drug mafia was behind these shipments, while only 20% of the drugs needed by people reach patients who need them on a legal basis, 80% of the drugs are sold in the black market by government officials. The money from the sale of drugs is spent on helping militias affiliated with Tehran in so-called resistance countries.
Finally, I would like to thank the People's Mojahedin Organization (MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which during this period exposed the reality of the Islamic Republic and made the world aware of the organized massacre caused by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As a doctor myself, I am part of the people inside Iran; I am a supporter of the MEK in my country, and even now, during these years, the only force that is really fighting this regime inside and outside Iran and is a serious alternative to the regime is MEK.