In the dining room of the Hotel Congress, in Yerevan, at the end of June, a joyful hubbub resounds in the Persian language among the customers having breakfast. Between the guests, mostly Iranian, no need to know each other to start the conversation. Links are formed quickly and advice is exchanged: how and where to get vaccinated? What side effects can you expect after the bite? What medicine to take to stop fever and chills? “I am completely sore. But my husband was burning with a fever last night. That’s why I’m not complaining ”exclaims Mina, an Iranian woman with long artificial eyelashes, sitting opposite her husband, Houman, who is sipping his coffee.
As the vaccine campaign in Iran stalls, many Iranians are heading to neighboring Armenia, where they do not need a visa, to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In this small country of three million people, scarred by a war with Azerbaijan in 2020, few people are convinced of the need to be vaccinated. The Armenian leaders have therefore decided, in order to promote tourism, to run out their excess doses of vaccines – the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca, the Chinese Sinovac and the Russian Sputnik V – by opening the vaccination to foreign travelers. Free.
Mina and Houman paid an Armenian to guide them through the process. He picked them up the day before at the hotel, along with a dozen other Iranians, and arranged for them to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in a clinic in Yerevan. “We paid 50 dollars [42 euros] per person. It was easier than going to queue like everyone else ”, slips Houman, who passes the number of the Armenian matchmaker to a young Iranian woman, seated at the table next door.
A little further, other Iranians meet half an hour later to go together to the city center where an ambulance, parked on Northern Avenue, serves as a vaccination center from noon to 8 p.m. A little after noon, the officials of the ambulance have already collected the passports of fifty people, all Iranian, the first arrivals. Sitting at a table, a nurse writes down the information of those receiving their dose on a certificate, indicating the date and name of the vaccine. The passport of Behnam, a 27-year-old Iranian, stands in the pile of ” fortunate “. He arrived the day before and is staying for three days.
You have 70.52% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.