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US News Covid-19: Iran launches its vaccination campaign

15:45  09 february  2021
15:45  09 february  2021 Source:   lepoint.fr

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  Covid-19: l'Iran lance sa campagne de vaccination © Provided by Le Point

L he vaccination campaign against Covid-19 began on Tuesday in Iran , the Middle East country most affected by the pandemic and where the health situation has been worsened by the US sanctions regime according to the authorities.

"We are starting the national vaccination against Covid-19", announced Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who participated by videoconference in the ceremony organized to mark the launch of the campaign in a hospital in Tehran.

In the Imam Khomeini hospital in the heart of the capital, the first doses of the vaccine were administered to nurses and doctors, reported journalists from AFP .

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The vaccinated persons then received a blue card indicating the name of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the date of the injection.

"The loved ones who will be vaccinated today are doctors and nurses," Minister of Health Saïd Namaki said on the spot.

He added that "people over the age of 65, and people with chronic diseases" would be given priority for the first doses.

The first batches of the Russian vaccine arrived in Tehran on Thursday, and two more are expected by February 18 and 28 respectively, according to Iranian officials.

Iran has bought a total of "two million doses" of the Russian vaccine, Kianouche Jahanpour, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, told AFP on Saturday.

In addition to the Sputnik V vaccine, Iran will receive from the Anglo-Swedish group AstraZeneca "in February 4.2 million doses of vaccine via Covax", a device intended to provide vaccines to the most disadvantaged countries, according to the Minister of Health, Saïd Namaki.

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Double crisis

In Iran, the coronavirus has killed 58,625 among 1,481,396 cases confirmed since the announcement of the first contaminations in February 2020, according to health authorities. The country has more than 80 million inhabitants.

Since the beginning of January, the number of daily deaths linked to the virus in Iran has fallen to less than one hundred, for the first time in seven months.

Nevertheless, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health considers the situation "sensitive and fragile", warning against an "resurgence" of the disease in Iran "if the health protocols were not followed".

In addition to the health crisis, the Islamic Republic is facing an economic crisis aggravated in particular by the American sanctions imposed on Tehran since the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 from the international agreement on Iranian nuclear power.

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The Iranian authorities had indicated for several weeks that these sanctions prevented them from obtaining vaccines.

In theory, drugs are exempt from the sanctions that particularly affect the Iranian banking sector, but in reality international banks tend to refuse transactions involving Iran to avoid exposure to possible litigation.

"Health Defenders"

Before the start of the vaccination program, President Rouhani paid tribute to "the memory of the martyrs among health defenders", alluding to dozens of healthcare workers who succumbed in the fight against viral disease in Iran.

In Iran, the announcement of the purchase of the Russian vaccine provoked strong reactions among Internet users but also from certain officials, politicians and health.

But the controversy calmed down after the announcement of the publication in recent days of an analysis of clinical trials in the scientific journal The Lancet, indicating that the Russian vaccine was 91.6% effective against symptomatic forms of Covid-19.

On Tuesday, a dose of the Russian vaccine was administered to the son of Iran's health minister, at his father's request, to clear "the controversy," Namaki said.

09/02/2021 12:14:34 - Tehran (AFP) - © 2021 AFP

Iran: Discussions between Paris, London, Berlin and Washington on Thursday .
The meeting will be "mainly devoted to Iran and regional security in the Middle East" © Damjan Tadic / CROPIX / SIPA The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

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