Twitter hashtag use spikes as deaths reportedly reach 30 an hour.

As COVID deaths continue to climb in Iran, social media users have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration over the Islamic Republic’s disregard for human life. 

#SOSIRAN is trending on Twitter, with users saying that the regime is committing genocide in the country with its refusal to purchase COVID vaccines. The Iranian Theater Forum, the only organization to openly take a stance on the matter, released a statement on Tuesday criticizing the failure of Iranian officials to manage the COVID crisis. “History will judge you and your failure to carry out your responsibilities. . . . We do not deserve to see one Iranian die every two minutes.”

On Monday, Reuters quoted a report on Iranian state TV which disclosed that every two minutes an Iranian dies from COVID and every two seconds an Iranian contracts the disease. Many social media users have been referencing the same figures. 

Earlier this month, an Iranian health expert put the number of daily COVID deaths at between and 800. Official figures, meanwhile, put the death toll, for example, at 378 on August 2 and 542 on August 8. A death every two minutes is a daily rate of 720.

In unprecedented remarks on Wednesday, the head of Iran’s COVID taskforce, Alireza Zali, acknowledged the mismanagement of the crisis, saying that officials did not purchase Western vaccines due to their expense.

“We shouldn’t be worrying about the cost of the vaccine,” Zali said. “We should be buying it even at double the price and vaccinating people. We have spent 720 million euros [$845 million] on remdesivir when we should have spent this amount on the vaccine. How is it that despite sanctions we are willing to pay three times more for oil equipment and we can’t do the same with the vaccine?” 

Zali also revealed that when WHO experts came to Iran, officials hid death statistics from them and instead of seeking their help “asked them to praise the Iranian healthcare system in the media.” He said that even though Iran did not really know much about COVID-19, it refused to allow in doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières and turned them back at the airport.

“We have only enough vaccines for five more days and we cannot increase vaccination rates,” Zali added. “If we had more vaccines, we would double the number of vaccination sites.”

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