Iran Claims Ayatollah Khamenei Will Receive Unproven Homemade Vaccine

In this picture released by the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to his supporters during his visit to Mashhad, 900 km (540 miles) east of Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will receive an Iranian-developed Chinese coronavirus vaccine in the coming days, Head of Iran’s Academy of Medical Science Dr. Alireza Marandi asserted Wednesday.

Appearing in a video interview posted to Khamenei’s official government website, Marandi asserted the octogenarian cleric would receive his first dose of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine in the near future, noting Khamenei had two conditions for its receipt.

“First, I don’t want to be vaccinated out of turn. Second, I will only use an Iranian vaccine,” Marandi said, paraphrasing his conversation with the imam.

Tehran announced in mid-June that it had approved the Iranian-produced coronavirus vaccine CovIran-Barekat for emergency use and claimed two other alleged Iranian vaccine candidates, Razi and Fakhra, were on the list of approved options.

Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki sang praises of the vaccine during the press conference, making outlandish claims about its effectiveness while avoiding statistical details.

“I proudly announce that Iranian vaccines enjoy the lowest rate of side effects and are the most effective and safest vaccines in the world,” he said.

Marandi did not explicitly state which vaccine the ayatollah would receive, but made a vague reference to the government’s recent approval of one option for emergency use, implying it would be CovIran-Barekat. Iran state media outlet PressTV unambiguously asserted Khamenei would opt for CovIran-Barekat but did not identify any source other than the Marandi video.

As one of the world’s most elderly heads of state, Iran’s supreme leader has been eligible to receive a vaccine for months, Marandi noted. CovIran-Barekat’s authorization in June cleared the second hurdle.

“Therefore, he is willing to receive it and he will do so in the near future, God willing,” Marandi concluded.

While state media and government website’s touted Marandi’s announcement, there has been no indication as of yet that Khamenei would televise his vaccination as other world leaders have done.

Several, however, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, have remained secretive about their own vaccination status while their governments promote domestically produced vaccines to their citizens and foreign governments.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov announced in March that Putin had received a coronavirus vaccine, but did so in private. He did not clarify for which vaccine Putin had opted, but noted it required two doses, leaving open the possibility that he received the Russian option, Sputnik V. Peer-reviewed research indicated Sputnik V has a 91.6 percent efficacy rate, placing it above any Chinese option and behind only American vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Peskov offered no proof Putin did not opt for a foreign shot.

Xi has remained conspicuously absent from China’s vaccination drive, declining to share his own vaccination status and saying little to encourage citizens to embrace Chinese vaccines. He has instead made a number of public appearances to promote local cuisine in obscure parts of the country and to applaud communist astronauts for the work on Beijing’s new space station.

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