Turkey to use ‘91 percent effective’ Chinese vaccine, says health minister
Interim results from phase 3 trials have shown that a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac is 91.25 percent effective, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, adding that Turkey will use the injection in mass vaccinations.
The first batch of 3 million doses of the vaccine is expected to arrive in Turkey on Dec. 28, according to the minister.
Ankara signed a deal to buy a total of 50 million doses of the Chinese injection.
“We are now confident that the vaccine is effective and safe for Turkish people,” Koca said.
Nearly 9 million people are set to get vaccinated in the first stage, and the jab could be administered to some 1.5 million or even 2 million people per day, he told a press conference on Dec. 24 following the Health Ministry’s Science Board meeting.
Starting with health care professionals, people in the top three priority groups will be vaccinated in January, February, and March, or in April at the latest, Koca said, adding that he will be one of the first people to get the injection.
One member of the board said that no major side-effects were seen during the trial.
Common adverse effects caused by the vaccine were fever, mild pain and slight fatigue, explained Professor Serhat Ünal from the Science Board.
A total of 10,828 doses of the vaccine have been administered to more than 7,000 volunteers during the trails, Ünal said.
Researchers in Brazil, which is also running a final phase 3 trial of the vaccine, said on Dec. 23 that the shot was more than 50 percent effective, but withheld full results at the company’s request, raising questions about transparency.
Turkey is planning to bring 4.5 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech by the end of March, including some 1-1.5 million in January, Koca also said.
Officials are working on the planning, and the details of the mass vaccination program will be announced shortly, according to Professor Tevfik Özlü of the Science Board.
“People will be able to easily learn when they will get the vaccine through different channels. Every precaution is being considered for an orderly inoculation drive. Vaccinations will be based on appointments,” Özlü said.
Koca also said that Turkey is not considering new restrictions amid the emergence of a new fast-moving coronavirus strain.
Turkey last week banned flights from the U.K., Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa.
All arrivals in Turkey from the U.K. since Dec. 14 were identified and more than 4,600 passengers were sent to isolation in their residences, Koca said earlier.