Low second dose rates endangering vaccination momentum
As Turkey’s vaccination drive against the coronavirus pandemic continues successfully in terms of both the scope of the jab program and the speed of inoculations, the latest remarks of a senior Turkish official show that reluctance among the public to get the second dose of a vaccine endangers momentum in the program
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that some out of all 81 provinces in the country scored relatively low rates in second dose vaccinations although they reached successfully the first dose target in a short time.
“We have eight provinces with a second dose rate below 65 percent and 59 provinces below 80 percent, although the first dose of vaccination [campaign] was successful in a short time,” Koca said on Twitter.
The vaccination rate is still under at 65 percent in several southeastern provinces, including Şanlıurfa, Mardin, Diyarbakır, Bingöl, Muş, Bitlis, Siirt and Batman, as vaccine hesitancy and outright opposition to vaccines seem to be the main causes of low rates.
“We would like to remind those who are still undecided about vaccination: Humanity is eager to get vaccinated,” Koca said, adding that countries with a low vaccination rates are those that cannot supply vaccines.
Turkey has administered over 119.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it launched an immunization drive in January, according to official figures.
More than 56.08 million people have been given a first vaccine dose, while over 50.06 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said. The country has also given third booster shots to over 11.9 million people.
The ministry recorded 21,177 new COVID-19 cases, 195 deaths, and 34,290 recoveries over the 24 hours and as many as 350,163 virus tests were done in the same time period, the data showed.
The latest weekly figures show that the number of coronavirus cases per every 100,000 people increased in Istanbul, a Turkish metropolis with over 16 million population. However, the capital Ankara and the Aegean province of İzmir have posted declines.
Case numbers for the period between Nov. 6 and Nov.12 show Istanbul had an average of 308 cases per every 100,000 people and this number was around 241 in Ankara and about 68 in İzmir.
Meanwhile, the human trials for Turkey’s domestic COVID-19 vaccine are underway, but an expert said an army of 1,000 volunteers was needed to complete the tests.
“The plans are to test 3,000 people for phase-3 of Turkovac and about two-third of this has been completed so far,” said Professor Alper Şener from the Health Ministry’s Science Board, adding that “1,000 heroes” are needed to complete Phase-3 studies.
Turkovac was developed by scientists at the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri’s Erciyes University and started its Phase 3 human trials in June.