Treating a patient with COVID-19 in Tehran, Iran, March 2020
Wana News Agency / Reuters

As the world struggles to fight one of the most catastrophic pandemics in its modern history, Iran has become a cautionary tale about the cruelty and futility of isolation. Iranian experts project that twice as many Iranians will die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as perished in the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq. Many Iranians still remember the role the United States played in supporting Iraq in that war. Now Washington is insisting on crippling the economy of this nation of 80 million people as it struggles to survive a devastating health crisis.

According to many predictive models, the coronavirus could kill 0.5 million to 1.5 million people in Iran. One epistemic projection assumes a 30 percent attack rate, a five percent hospitalization rate, and a one to two percent mortality rate; it concludes that between 250,000 and 500,000 Iranians will die from the virus in the next five months. To

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  • HADI KAHALZADEH is a Ph.D. Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and a Ph.D. Candidate in Social Policy at the Heller School at Brandeis University. He served as an economist for Iran’s Social Security Organization from 2002 to 2011.
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