What long has been supposed by many now is shown as true according to the BBC: Iran’s number of infected Covid-19 patients is double the number officially announced, the death toll of the pandemic is much more than double. The Iran government officially stated that till July 20 about 270,000 people were infected and more than 15,000 died of the pandemic. The new data leak given the BBC by an anonymous source now shows clearly that over 450,000 people were tested positive and nearly 42,000 did not survive. The worst spots are Tehran, the capital, with more than 8,100 people who died with the Corona-19 known symptoms, and the city of Qom with more than 1,400 deaths, that is one death out of every 1,000 citizens.
The leaked report not only states a much higher number of COVID patients but also the date of the pandemic’s beginning which is said to be the 22 January, almost one month earlier than officially announced. Covid-19 was recognized by the Iranian government only after the two doctors Dr. Mohammad Molayi and Dr. Ali Molayi repeatedly claimed that their brother died of Covid-19 who was then tested positive in February 19. The leaked report reveals for that same day already a number of 52 Covid-19 caused deaths. Even though the disease then was acknowledged by the health ministry, the Iranian state TV showed a report accusing the two doctors to have made-up evidence.
That said it shows that the pandemic was knowingly denied, official reactions were contradictory as the health ministry and the Iranian officials act nervous ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. Even now with news published on the leaked report the official response by deputy health minister Ali Akbar Haqdoust is denying: “Despite all the pressures that the pandemic has put on the country’s medical staff, the outbreak is not large enough to cause such deaths figures.” Furthermore, hard-line Iranian media accused BBC of fabricating false evidence.
For Iran the disease comes at a critical moment anyway: internationally isolated with ongoing U.S. sanctions and an ill-equipped health system Iran’s political body is at a weak point. Still, the government rejected life-saving humanitarian aid from the Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières for being suspicious of it acting as a western spy network. Additionally, it also turned away early help from the U.S. Government. Instead, Iran’s government is blaming the U.S. sanctions to not have been able to offer life-saving medical treatment to its people, according to Fox News Digital. The online media also quotes U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan
Ortagus underlines that the sanctions do not touch imports of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods and there is furthermore proof of document that several Iranian health companies were able to import testing kits without any obstacles.
As the Iranian health ministry says they are generally well prepared to fight Covid-19 even without international help, the new numbers stress out a more devastating portrait and leave questions on political strategy open. Information such as the government’s financial aid of several million dollars to state loyal Hezbollah in Lebanon adds to the paradox ways of politics handling the pandemic.
It is questionable if denying is the right way to fight a disease that needs transparency and strict medical action. Once again it is the Iranian people to pay the price for miscalculated politics.
Wrote for I’m Arabic website Anna Gölz