Coronavirus in Iran: Struggling to save lives under US sanctions

Coronavirus in Iran: Struggling to save lives under US sanctions

Since February 19, when Iran’s Ministry of Health reported the first case of infection with a new coronavirus in the country, the number of infected in the Islamic Republic has reached 24,811, while 1,934  have died and 8,913 patients have recovered.

New cases of infection in Iran are detected every day, and the mortality rate has already exceeded 7%. According to the spokesman for Iran’s Health Ministry Kianoosh Jahanpour, one citizen dies every 10 minutes in the country because of coronavirus. Iran is the third country after China most affected by coronavirus and has a high number of deaths, although the rate of patients who have recovered has risen and is currently higher than 37% in Ira. Among the recovered patients is a 103-year-old woman and a 91-year-old man.

Some Iranian officials and politicians with COVID-19 managed to recover, among them Iran’s first vice-president Ishaq Jahangiri, vice-president Masumeh Ebtekar and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi. Many ministers and top officials are still under medical supervision or quarantined, including Ali Akbar Velayati, the adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader.

However, the outbreak has claimed the lives of well-known politicians, members of parliament, religious figures and even the military. Among them were Nasser Shaabani (one of the top generals in Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC), Hossein Sheikholislam (adviser to Minister of Iranian Foreign Affairs), Ahmad Toisarkani (adviser to the head of the judiciary), Seyed Mohammad Mirmohammadi, (senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and a member of Expediency Discernment Council).

The coronavirus has also claimed the lives of many Iranian doctors and nurses who were at the forefront of the fight against the epidemic.

Another unpleasant incident has also taken place in Iran: on top of the spread of coronavirus a lot of people were poisoned by ethanol. In Iran, the sale of all alcoholic drinks is prohibited. A number of Iranians felt that drinking alcohol could help them avert the infection of coronavirus and used industrial alcohol (ethanol), leaving 100 people dead and more than 1000 hospitalized.


Iran has taken a number of preventive measures to fight the spread of the virus, including sanitary and disinfection measures and halting air travel with certain countries. All Iranian schoolchildren and students were sent home for the Nowruz holidays (until April 13).

An active mass campaign began for home quarantine in accordance with instructions from Iran’s Ministry of Health, especially in large populated cities with a high rate of infection. The hashtags “Stay at home” and “We will defeat the coronavirus”, supported by a number of Iranian politicians, ministers and celebrities, have spread on social networks.

While cultural and artistic events like art exhibitions, fashion shows and music concerts have been canceled in several countries due to the pandemic, Iranian artists are calm and have turned the theme of coronavirus into art. Thus, through the efforts of art institutes, artists and actors, a unique international festival of cartoons was launched under the slogan “We’ll defeat the coronavirus.”

The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology has announced free Internet throughout the country because of coronavirus:

Iran’s authorities have significantly limited the use of cash money in the country, since banknotes are one of the key factors of the spread of coronavirus.

In Iran all mosques and shrines are closed. Any mass cultural events, as well as religious ceremonies, including collective prayers, are prohibited. Funeral processions have come under the most severe restrictions:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued an order to shut all outlets, markets and bazaars across the country for 15 days, except for pharmacies and grocery stores. Rouhani said that “these measures have been taken to support the most economically affected sectors of society in order to return them to normal life.”

The army and the IRGC joined to the headquarters for the fight against coronavirus and now are actively cleaning and disinfecting all streets in Iranian cities:


Coronavirus in Iran has become a major factor in the consolidation and mobilization of the entire nation. Contrary to expectations that a crisis would compel the population to accuse the authorities of failure, Iranians have come together in the face of a common threat.

Members of the Basij (paramilitary volunteer militia) joined the fight against coronavirus as well, volunteering to help the military, humanitarian, social and medical services.

Many Iranian farmers and manufacturers voluntarily connected their production resources to help the authorities: they redesigned production facilities and began to produce the most necessary products due to the epidemic: medical masks, antiseptic gels, medical gloves and much more.


A lot of volunteers united to help medical services disinfect the country.

The Iranian government began to pay the first subsidies for the poorest families faced with difficulties due to the coronavirus. The first package of financial state support was paid to 3 million Iranian families who lost their income due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the head of the Organization for Planning and Budget of Iran, the total number of subsidies ($ 52-160) will be paid in three tranches to the poorest families of Iranian society most affected by coronavirus.

Tax holidays have been introduced for a number of Iranian entrepreneurs and businessmen.

In addition, the Iranian authorities temporarily released about 85,000 prisoners for an indefinite period as a measure to fight the spread of coronavirus, among them is a former veteran of the US Navy and British citizen Nazanin Zagari-Radcliffe:



In the light of the spread of the epidemic and its impact across countries in Europe and the United States, massive panic began among the population. Panicking consumers began to raid markets for supplies and even stood in a kilometer-long lines to buy weapons and marijuana.

People in Iran, having lived under sanctions for more than 40 years, have been absolutely calm while visiting supermarkets despite the epidemic. The authorities took all necessary measures so that people affected by the outbreak would not be denied the most necessary products and medical supplies.

In Iran, there is no shortages of food or other necessities: people are not stand in lines or fighting over toilet paper:


Of course, having been affected by sanctions and with a high population density (50 people per 1 sq. meter), it is very difficult for Iran to deal with the epidemic.

In addition to the WHO’s assistance, a number of friendly countries provided all possible aid to Iran.  China and Russia came forward to offer help to the embattled nation by sending cargos of medical masks, surgical gloves and diagnostic tests.

Japan granted support totaling  $23.4 million to help Iran cover medical needs.

Japan will also supply Iran with free medicine (Avigan) for treating patients with coronavirus:

Turkey, Iran’s neighbor, also sent aid to the Iranian people to fight against coronavirus:

Some of the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, despite some political differences with Iran, also helped the Islamic Republic, thereby protesting the globalist allies of the United States – Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain showed no initiative in helping Iran, and only blamed Iran for the spread of coronavirus in their countries.

Iran requested $ 5 billion from the IMF to fight against coronavirus. It has been Iran’s first request for cash assistance from the IMF over the past 60 years. However, no answer has yet been received.


While countries are trying to come together despite political differences over the common threat, exchanging practical experience and resources in the light of coronavirus spread, the United States is imposing new sanctions against Iran.

Moreover, the US administration, despite seeing the threat of the coronavirus outbreak in its own country, is adamant and not ready to take humanitarian steps to help Tehran. On the contrary, Mike Pompeo is proposing a military strike against Iran:

Some politicians in the United States oppose the inhuman policy. In particular, Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the candidates for the US presidential election in November 2020, spoke in favor of lifting sanctions against Iran:

Iran called on the world community to press the Trump administration to lift sanctions. Antonio Gutteres, the UN Secretary General, received a special letter from Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian minister of foreign affairs:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote a special letter to American nation, stressing that it is time for the Americans to inform their government and representatives in the US Congress that hostility, pressure and sanctions will never succeed.

Rouhani noted that “any hostility and political myopia that tries to undermine the medical system and limit financial resources in Iran in this crisis time, will have a direct impact on the fight against this pandemic in other countries.”

According to Rouhani, because of the US sanctions, many ordinary Iranians lose their health, work and income. “The Iranian nation will continue to resist both the virus and the sanctions, tough policies and strategies of maximum pressure from the US government. This difficult time will pass all right in the end, but will the Americans take responsibility for the unrelenting pressure on the Iranian people placed through their voting and paying their taxes?’”the Iranian President said in his message.

In addition to these measures, Iran is running a campaign to collect signatures for a special petition demanding the US lift unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic in the context of the pandemic.

The petition is open for signing on corona2plus.com.

“No coronavirus! No sanctions! Coronavirus is a global threat and combating this global threat calls for world cooperation; US government’s extrajudicial sanctions against Iranian nation hinder international convergence to combat this global disaster,” the petition says.


It is noteworthy that European countries, which also suffer from the coronavirus spread, have said no to Iran’s request:

The spokesman for the European External Action Service, Peter Stano, acknowledged that the EU did not have the means to convince the United States to lift its sanctions against Iran, while the Iranian mission to the United Nations on March 19 urged the international community to ask Washington to lift them.

“The EU, as you know, cannot influence the sanctions regime. This is the authority of each individual state …”, the EU spokesman said at a press-conference in Brussels.

In spite of this, the UK, having left the EU, has positively answered Iran’s request. Some members of the UK Parliament created a petition in support of the lifting US sanctions:

The Socialist Equality Party also showed its solidarity with Iran:

Other countries also support Iran in its call for the United States to lift sanctions:

Given that the situation with coronavirus in some states has reached a critical point, Iran still hopes the Trump administration may come around and are ready to cooperate with the US for humanitarian purposes, offering practical help to fight against coronavirus:

Perhaps the Trump administration will review their position if the situation in the United States gets worse, but they will undoubtedly put forward a number of conditions for Iran, both in relation to nuclear and military missile programs. Iranians are unlikely to agree to any conditions. If the coronavirus spread grows across the world, it is likely that only after the next US presidential election that a new presidential administration will be able to review the sanctions policy against Iran in the context of the global epidemic.

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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June 2024