COVID-19 presents a major threat to the global economy and the health of millions of people around the world, but its impact on Iran, one of the early epicenters of the outbreak, has been particularly severe. With official figures of nearly 75,000 confirmed cases and over 4,600 deaths, it is among the top 10 hardest hit countries. The outbreak is expected to peak around late May and researchers are worried that if the Iranian public and government do not adhere to significantly stricter quarantine and social distancing measures, COVID-19-related deaths could reach as high as 3.5 million or 4.3 percent of Iran’s total population. Exacerbated by the effects of U.S. sanctions and the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, the economic fallout is likely to be wide-ranging and severe, hampering the government’s ability to effectively respond to the crisis. Optimistic estimates put the impact in 2020 at around 15 percent of GDP, while others suggest it could be far worse, reaching as high as 30 percent. It is also likely to result in massive job losses, which if not addressed swiftly and effectively, could lead to political and social unrest in the near future.
Read the full article at the Middle East Institute.