TEHRAN — Iran announced Saturday it has now fully vaccinated 44 million people, more than half of its population of 85 million. The country has been hit the worst by the pandemic in the Middle East.

The Iranian Health Ministry said that 44 million people have received two doses of the vaccine. Iran has recorded at least 128,000 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and has been the hardest hit by the pandemic in the region. The ministry also announced that there have been more than 3,500 new cases of infections in the past 24 hours, as well as 118 deaths.

The government also noted that the daily death toll numbers have been decreasing in recent months, something Iranian experts attribute to vaccination. The highest single daily death toll was on August 24, with 709 fatalities.

Authorities have been warning that more surges of the virus are expected; the latest came in August, fueled by the contagious Delta variant. Less than half the population in Iran follows preventative measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing.

Due to the positive trends, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday lifted nighttime traffic restrictions on private cars, which were previously banned from the streets from 9 pm to 4 am. READ MORE

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