Next three months crucial to control Omicron strain, says expert

Next three months crucial to control Omicron strain, says expert

Next three months crucial to control Omicron strain, says expert

The next three months will be crucial for efforts to confront challenges from the Omicron strain of COVID-19, a health expert has said, calling for speeding up the drive to give booster shoots.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca last week announced the first cases of the Omicron variant in Turkey.

“It takes three months for this strain to spread, thus in Turkey half of the infections will be the cases of the Omicron variants in three months from today,” said Professor Alper Şener from the Health Ministry’s Science Board, which advises the government on the pandemic.

People who are eligible for the third dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 must be jabbed immediately and those booster shots could be given earlier than initially scheduled, Şener suggested.

He added that the inactivated vaccines provide good protection and those who have received this type of jab should not worry. “But a booster shot is must.”

Most of the COVID-19 patients that are receiving treatment in hospitals’ intensive care units are those who have had two doses of the Sinovac vaccine but skipped the third dose, said Professor Necmettin Ünal from Ankara University’s Medical School.

Turkey is using both the Chinese company Sinovac’s inactivated jab and Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine in its inoculation program.

The number of daily cases reported has been hovering around at 20,000 since early December.

Meanwhile a small group of anti-vaxxers held a rally in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district on Dec. 12 to protest anti-virus regulations, such as face masks, HES codes – a coronavirus contact tracing system - and PCR tests, claiming that those measures are violating their right to travel.

People who are not fully vaccinated are required to take PCR tests to make intercity travel on public transport.

The protesters carried placards that read ‘End to mask and social distancing lie!” and “We won’t be masked slaves.” One protester was holding a sign in English: “We are [the] soldiers of Grand President [Jair] Bolsonaro.”

Anti-vaxxers have held rallies before in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir but failed to draw large crowds. But Koca recently complained about misinformation circulating on social media regarding the COVID-19 vaccines and that such posts on social media cause confusion among the public.

To date, more than 12 million people have been given three doses of the COVID-19 vaccines while some 51 million people have received two doses. Over 56 million people have received only one dose of the jab.