Local COVID jab Turkovac rolled out
The locally developed vaccine against COVID-19, Turkovac, that received emergency use authorization last week has started being offered to the public as the number of new infections climbed to its highest level since late April.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and the members of the Health Ministry’s Science Board got their Turkovac jabs on Dec. 29.
“I strongly urge people to receive the Turkovac vaccine, especially as the booster shot,” Koca said as he was given his dose of the jab at the Ankara City Hospital, noting the threats from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Up until now, the country was using the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and the Chinese company Sinovac in its jab drive which was launched in January.
“I have not had received any shots. I waited for Turkovac to be put in use and during this period I tried to protect myself,” said Nail Ergin, who got his dose of the homegrown vaccine at a hospital in Istanbul.
To date, more than 130 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Turkey with the number of people given the booster shots exceeding 18 million.
More than 51 million people have been double jabbed and nearly 57 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, the Science Board, which convened on Dec. 29, said in a statement that the rise in daily infections has become all apparent over the past week. “This increase is related to the fact that the Omicron strain is more transmissible, and that people spend more time in closed spaces,” it added.
The statement, however, reiterated that the new variant has not increased hospitalizations.
The board also said that even though Omicron is more contagious, there is no need to reconsider the anti-virus measures, but stressed taking personal precautions has become even more important.
As the number of cases increase, Education Minister Mahmut Özer said in-class education will continue. “Suspending the face-to-face education is not on our agenda,” Özer said, noting that at least 94 percent of teachers have received at least two doses of the vaccine. He also added that there are 850,000 classrooms in the country and to date face-to-face education has been suspended only in 1,500 classrooms.
In-class education in Turkey resumed on Sept. 6 after almost an 18-month break due to the pandemic.
The Health Ministry reported last week that more than 40 cases of the Omicron had been detected in at least six provinces, including Istanbul and İzmir, the country’s third largest city.
Meanwhile, new infections continued to increase, hitting 36,684 on Dec.29, which marked the highest daily cases since April 29’s 37,674. Despite the fact that the cases are on the rise, deaths due to COVID-19 are not increasing. The daily fatalities have remained below 200.