ISTANBUL – Iran has said it has signed a contract for 60 million doses of Russian Sputnik V vaccine, amid growing dissatisfaction with the slow pace of vaccinations during a fierce influx of coronavirus infections.
Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, said on Thursday that the doses would arrive between June and December, the state news agency IRNA reported. Iran is struggling with one of the worst outbreaks in the world while struggling to get vaccines ̵
In a failure, Iran’s top leader announced in January that he had banned the import of American and British coronavirus vaccines, calling them “completely unreliable.”
Iran, with a population of 80 million, has received several hundred thousand doses of vaccines from China and India, and earlier this month received 700,000 doses as part of the global Covax initiative.
But as of April 11, the government had administered only about 400,000 doses of vaccine, according to the World Health Organization. The government is developing several local vaccines and is working with Cuba to develop vaccines.
Daily infections in Iran have reached record highs in the past week, with officials blaming the increase in domestic travel in Iran’s New Year last month, as well as the spread of options. As vaccination efforts have failed, criticism and finger-pointing among government officials have surfaced in the Iranian press.
A report by the moderate Hamshahri newspaper on March 7 quoted Hossein Ganaati, chairman of the Iranian Pandemic Management Brain Trust, as saying the government did not have a “precise plan to provide vaccines”. Another report Friday on the Iranian Student Semi-Official Agency (ISNA) quoted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as calling vaccines the “key” to stopping the outbreak.
In an implicit critique of the supreme leader’s ban on vaccines, he added: “We can’t wait for domestically produced vaccines in the summer and we have to use all kinds of foreign vaccines and all companies are allowed.”