Iran: Dissidents Say True Coronavirus Death Toll over 300,000

People wearing protective clothings, masks and gloves attend a funeral of a victim who died after being infected with the new coronavirus, at a cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 30, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults …
Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), Iran’s largest dissident organization, revealed on Sunday that its independent tally of Chinese coronavirus cases in the country shows that over 300,000 people have died there since the pandemic began.

Public health experts consider Iran’s response to the coronavirus crisis among the world’s worst. Iran allowed mass Islamic gatherings at the height of the first wave of the pandemic worldwide and has repeatedly promoted non-existent or unproven coronavirus “cures,” such as a vaccine allegedly developed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a jihadist terrorist organization. Iranian clerics have also promoted unproven herbal remedies and camel urine to fight coronavirus infections. In contrast, Iranian clerics have warned that reputable Chinese coronavirus vaccines cause homosexuality, a claim for which no evidence exists.

In July 2020, Health Minister Saeed Namaki referred to Iran’s pandemic response as “embarrassing.”

The PMOI, the wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) active within the nation’s borders, said in a statement on Sunday that it had compiled evidence for the deaths of over 302,000 people since the pandemic began as of May 30. The Islamic regime claimed to have confirmed only 80,156 deaths nationwide since the pandemic began as of Monday and over 29 million cases of coronavirus generally.

The PMOI claims to source its death toll by maintaining ties to health workers, government officials, and others at the local level. The group is not alone in accusing Iranian officials of undercounting coronavirus cases for the past year, including both international journalists and whistleblowers within the regime itself. Local officials began accusing the national government as early as in April 2020 of publishing national statistics that did not correspond to the sum of cases and deaths that one would find by adding up local tallies.

“A delay in announcing the start of the outbreak in Iran, not taking into account the number of those who died before the announcement, lack of adequate test equipment, and presenting COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] deaths as respiratory problems cases are among the reasons why the figures announced by the Health Ministry are much lower than actual numbers,” Tehran City Council Chairman Mohsen Hashemi claimed in April 2020.

Hashemi insisted that the “actual numbers are several times higher than what is being announced by the government.”

Locals anonymous informing the PMOI/MEK also reported hospitals no longer accepting coronavirus patients – resulting in those individuals not forming part of official statistics – or misdiagnosing them to control the figures. Those accusations reportedly leaked into Iranian Farsi-language media.

“In many cities, they are no longer taking COVID-19 patients to hospitals. They refuse to provide medical treatment for so long that the patient dies and is directly taken to a cemetery,” state newspaper Jahane San’at claimed in May 2020, according to a translation by the PMOI.

In August 2020, the BBC published statistics, allegedly from leaked Iranian government documents, showing the nation’s death toll at the time was nearly triple what Tehran was claiming publicly. The BBC reported that the documents contained detailed information on each case such as “names, age, gender, symptoms, date and length of periods spent in hospital, and underlying conditions patients might have.”

Iranian state media outlets boasted on Monday that the nation was prepared to mass-produce a homemade vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus, known as “COV-Iran Barakat.”

“Kianush Jahanpur, head of the [Health] ministry’s public relations and information center, in a tweet on Monday, said the good news is ‘on the way,’ referring to the first Iranian-made vaccine,” the state-run PressTV propaganda outlet claimed. “On Sunday, head of COV-Iran Barakat vaccine research group Hassan Jalili announced that one million doses of the vaccine will be produced this month, which will be delivered to the health ministry.”

Government agents claimed the vaccine was “efficient beyond expectations” but have not published any detailed clinical trial data that support their enthusiasm. In April, officials claimed it was 90 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infections, without evidence. The clinical trials occurred partially in Cuba, another rogue state claiming to have several coronavirus vaccines in development. Barakat is believed to be a separate product from the IRGC vaccine candidate that Tehran announced was in development in March 2020, but failed to mention publicly again.

IRGC commander Hossein Salami boasted of another alleged scientific achievement in April 2020, a “magnetic” coronavirus detector that allegedly worked faster than nucleic acid tests, but Iran has yet to mass promote the product or offer the world any proof that it works. No clear scientific explanation exists for how magnetism could be used to detect the presence of coronavirus in the human body.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banned the importing of vaccines from the United States and the United Kingdom in January, despite that two American-made vaccines, by the firms Pfizer and Moderna, are considered the world’s most effective. Khamenei accused both nations of attempting to intentionally spread coronavirus infections with a false vaccine.

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