At least 130 Iranian nurses have died so far from Covid-19 and over 95,000 have been infected, according to General Director of the Nurse’s House Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam in April, who said that the vaccine delay was massacring nurses.
He said: “In light of the delay in the vaccination of nurses, it can be said that nurses are being massacred in hospitals. Unfortunately, with 130 dead nurses who were fighting COVID-19, we are among the countries with the greatest number of infections and deaths among nurses.”
Mohammad Mirza Beigi, the Head of Iran’s Nursing Organization, said back in March that the death toll was 110 and the number infected at any point was 90,000, which suggests that a further 20 died and 5,000 were infected in that one month alone.
So why isn’t the regime vaccinating healthcare workers, even though Iran was the epicentre of the pandemic in the region?
First of all, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned vaccines made in the UK or US, claiming that they were being tested on Iranians, but the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily admitted last month that this was a case of the regime prioritising the economy over healthcare.
While both Minoo Mohraz, a member of the Scientific Committee of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce (NCCT), and Zafarghandi, the head of the regime’s Medical Organization, admitted that the vaccine import was too slow and would not allow for efficient vaccination of even those most at risk.
Worse is that the imported vaccine is traded on the black market. The state-rund daily Donya-e-Eghtesad on May 11 wrote: “The vaccine is available on the black market, but it is not clear whether this vaccine is real or not, the customer must trust and pay a thousand euros for the Russian vaccine.
According to this report and quoted by the pharmacists of the Nasser Khosrow street, it is said that the Chinese vaccine will be available in 10 days.
“Iran has 8,574 kilometers of border with 7 countries, and this has caused everything that is offered to the European market, the United States or even the Far East to be available in the Iranian market 48 hours later.
“According to field observations, the price of two doses of Russian vaccine in Iran is one thousand euros and they do not accept its equivalent in Rials. There is no guarantee as to whether this vaccine is genuine or not.”
On a related note, is the serious shortage of nurses in Iran, with numbers below global standards before the pandemic and made much worse now. This means that nurses are having to work longer hours, with 12–24-hour shifts being common, and are getting easily burnt out. To make matters worse, due to the regime’s problems with paying wages, especially living wages, or providing the supplies for nurses to safely work, many are switching professions or emigrating in order to make a living
Moghaddam said: “With the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the suffering nurses have endured due to the situation, between 100 and 150 nurses leave the country every month. In European countries, nurses, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, receive high salaries and good benefits. “
Meanwhile, Dr Armin Zareian, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nursing Organization, said in April that 500 nurses are emigrating to Europe or North America every month and the Secretary-General of the Nursing House said that migration of nurses had increased by 300%.