Iran’s Minister of Health Saeed Namaki yesterday called critics of the Russian vaccine “evil” and accused them of “betrayal” after widespread criticism over Iran’s decision to use the vaccine for COVID-19 vaccination.
“Do not portray those who serve the people as traitors in people’s minds. I swear this is injustice, this is national betrayal in the most difficult of times,” Namaki said during a meeting of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce.
Before this, 98 members of the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRIMC) in an open letter to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani expressed concern over the “method of selection, confirmation and purchase” of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and called it “illegitimate and dangerous”.
The letter, published on January 31 in IRIMC’s website, said Sputnik V was not approved according to international standards, and that its “effectiveness and safety in the country of origin was questionable.”
The Medical Council said transparent information on the research and production phase of Sputnik V was inaccessible.
“After a year of hard work, the medical community is waiting for nationwide vaccination with an approved vaccine, which has gone through the scientific process of approval and production,” IRIMC members wrote.
The IRIMC members asked the Rouhani administration to “consider all conditions and purchase the best available vaccine from multi-national companies.”
The Medical Council members also called any “delay, consideration and negligence” in this regard “unacceptable, unforgivable and intolerable”.
“Those who do not want vaccines to have the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approval, must accept responsibility for the consequences,” the Head of Public Relations at IRIMC, Hossein Kermanpour said one day before the letter was published.
Before this, a member of Iran’s COVID-19 Taskforce criticized the regime’s decision to import Russian vaccines and said it was “unfortunate” for the people of Iran.
“I am not satisfied with this decision,” Minoo Mohraz told the state-run Jahan-e San’at Daily on January 28.
Mohraz said Sputnik V has yet to be confirmed as safe by an international body including the World Health Organization and the EU’s Food and Drug Organization.
On January 30, the Head of Iran’s Nurse’s House, a state-controlled union, said, “We are not willing to inject the Russian vaccine or any other vaccine that is not approved by WHO. Nurses are not lab mice to be tested on. They do not deserve this, and it is not morally right to use an unapproved vaccine and test it on nurses.”
“Nurses fought on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam added.
“Over 60,000 nurses were infected with the virus. Those already infected do not need to be vaccinated. Nurses are in the high-risk group and should be the first to get vaccine injections,” he said.
Russian citizens are also skeptical about the safety of the vaccine.
Results from a new poll from the independent Levada Center revealed more than half of Russia’s residents (58 percent) do not want to be immunized with the Sputnik V vaccine and only 38 percent are willing to get the shot.
The regime’s Supreme Leader banned the import of US and UK made vaccines, namely Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, all of which have been approved internationally as most effective and safe against the deadly COVID-19 virus.
According to unofficial figures announced by the Paris based NCRI opposition group, over 209,000 people have passed away in the country from COVID-19. Iran’s Health Ministry has put fatalities at 57,959 but many health officials have noted that the real death toll is much higher.