Ebrahim Raisi given his first vaccine dose as Covid-19 continues to ravage Iran

Fifth wave of infection spurred by the Delta variant is the worst in the Middle East

Iran's newly inaugurated hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, publicly received his first dose of the COVIran Barekat vaccine, developed in Iran, on Sunday.

Mr Raisi urged public health officials to speed up vaccinations before the winter sets in, state-run media reported.

Only 3.3 per cent of Iran's nearly 85 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled from government sources by the Our World in Data project at the UK's University of Oxford.

Iran has been dealing with its most severe surge of the coronavirus to date and reported more new infections and deaths on Sunday than any other day since the pandemic began.

The health authorities recorded more than 39,600 new cases and 542 deaths from the virus.

The death toll exceeds the previous record set during Iran’s coronavirus surge last November. This signals that the current wave is getting worse. The new highs push Iran’s total number of infections to more than 4.1 million and its death toll more than 94,000 – the highest in the Middle East.

This rush of new cases, fuelled by the fast-spreading Delta variant, has overwhelmed hospitals. Iran has never had so many Covid-19 patients in critical condition. More than 6,460 severe cases were reported on Sunday.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week ordered officials to discuss the possibility of a total national shutdown.

Government officials have been reticent to enforce a lockdown owing to fears about its economic impact. Iran's economy has been damaged by years of US sanctions.

As a result of US measures that complicate banking transactions, Iran has struggled to gain access to many of the vaccines on the market.

It has since vigorously promoted the local production of coronavirus vaccines, doling out the experimental COVIran Barekat shot to most healthcare workers. Iran’s government announced that its domestic vaccine provides 85 per cent protection from the coronavirus, without disclosing data or details.

Updated: August 8th 2021, 5:45 PM