In an open letter, the directors of the Medical Council of the Republic of Iran announced that acquiring the vaccine was of extreme importance while calling on the president to consider only “national interests and scientific evidence.”
Last week I described in this column how the issue of vaccines against the coronavirus has become politicized in Iran when Ayatollah Khamenei announced that the importation of vaccines from the US, Great Britain, and France was prohibited, due to the antagonism between Iran and those. Occidental countries. This despite the severity of the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of 56,000 Iranians. And I also referred to the way in which the vaccination process is being handled in Mexico, whose characteristics also point to the fact that there is an evident electoral interest, as revealed, among other things, by the participation of the “servants of the nation” in said process.
It is pertinent to record the similarity that currently exists between countries as diverse as Mexico and Iran in terms of the problem of drug shortages in general, the negative consequences of which are multiplied exponentially in this pandemic. In Mexico, under the very hackneyed accusation of corruption, the AMLO government has vetoed Mexican laboratories for the purchase of drugs in the international market, and the chosen alternative, that a UN body supports the Mexican government in the acquisition has just not taken off. As denounced by Éctor Jaime Ramírez Barba, secretary of the Health Commission in Congress, the contracts for the 2021 drug supply have not even been signed, despite the fact that the budget has already been approved.
In Iran, the disaster stems from other causes, although the effects are the same as in the Mexican case: an acute shortage in the Iranian pharmaceutical market. There, what has happened is that the government has provided massive subsidies to the drug-producing industry in order to keep prices low, both for public and private medicine, but the result has not been as expected, since it has lent to the appearance of a black market and smuggling of medicines to neighboring countries. Last October, Iraqi intelligence services seized 19 trucks full of pharmaceuticals smuggled from Iran to Iraq’s Diyala province. So far the government of Tehran has not managed to control this situation.
But the worst sin against the health and life of the Iranians is being committed in a shameful way by the conservative hard-line sector of the Iranian government, which has dedicated itself, in recent months, to disapprove and dismantle initiatives capable of alleviating the resulting crisis. of the pandemic. For example, since last March the humanitarian organization Doctors without Borders offered to collaborate in the care of covid patients in the province of Isfahan. Initially, that aid was accepted, but shortly thereafter the permit was revoked because a negative campaign organized by radicals within the government forced the Ministry of Health to withdraw its initial approval.
The procurement of vaccines is following a similar pattern. Presidential elections are scheduled for June and the conservative side is trying to discredit the reformist administration of President Rohani, which is hampering the presidential efforts to quickly and efficiently vaccinate the population. It is known that Rohani had commissioned the governor of the Central Bank of Iran to seek the resources to pay for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, when Khamenei suddenly appeared to ban them and to declare that the national research project to produce an Iranian vaccine is close to the third phase and, in any case, the purchase of Russian and Chinese vaccines will be negotiated.
Finally, it must be said that this behavior has drawn strong criticism from prominent Iranian doctors who have asked President Rohani to intervene. In an open letter, the directors of the Medical Council of the Republic of Iran announced that acquiring the vaccine was extremely important while calling on the president to consider only “national interests and scientific evidence, and not political priorities.” A demand that is very similar to the one that so many Mexicans have made to our government, especially in regard to addressing the scientific evidence and not acting in the face of the pandemic guided by political interests. Unfortunately, in both Iran and Mexico these logical demands have fallen on stubbornly deaf ears.