Iran Official Warns ‘Vaccine Discrimination’ May Lead To Major Public Uproar
Iran International TV has acquired a copy of a letter from a presidential adviser urging the Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to make the process of vaccine procurement, distribution and administration transparent.
In his letter dated December 27, Hesamoddin Ashena has said that vaccination against Covid-19 is a public demand which makes the issue of transparency in access to vaccines "one of the top tests that the government and the regime as a whole" is now facing.
"There will be huge public discontent if there is discrimination in vaccination," Ashena wrote, adding that setting priorities in vaccination requires the establishment of a public platform for transparency to assure the public that vaccines are distributed "without discrimination" and "do not find their way into the black market."
Ashena has proposed the launch of a tracking website that will show which public or private sector companies have purchased the vaccines and how many doses for each province, city or health facility have been allocated. The tracking website should also display the serial number of each dose of vaccine and the national security number of its recipient to make tracking possible.
On December 26, Vice-President Es'haq Jahangiri said the Health Ministry was preparing a document setting out the protocols for the vaccination which would become available to the public. Jahangiri gave assurances to the public that no one, including government officials and their families, is to receive the vaccine outside these protocols.
The issue of access to Covid-19 vaccines became one of the main topics of public concern and social media debate after Iran's neighboring countries such as the United Arab Emirates acquired the vaccine and began vaccination. Many social media users have also expressed distrust about a homegrown vaccine and concern about unfair distribution of imported vaccines.
"The government must announce the names of the recipients of the Pfizer vaccine [if imported] because otherwise the quality vaccines will all go to the state-affiliated elite," a Twitter user wrote on December 30.
The Rouhani government has in recent days tried to reassure the public that vaccines will be purchased soon and distributed to all. Many hardliners oppose importing vaccines, particularly from the United States and other western countries and have been promoting a homegrown vaccine which has been promised to reach mass production in six months.
Some hardliners including the Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Brigadier-General Mohammadreza Naghdi, have even warned the Guards members to wait for the homegrown vaccine and avoid the imported vaccines. They claim that imported vaccines may be used as a biological weapon in the hands of western powers and countries to "reduce the world population by 20 percent", presumably by causing infertility.