People run to hospitals for booster shots as cases rise
With a total of 226,532 COVID-19 cases reported in Türkiye between July 11 and 17, according to the Health Ministry’s weekly statistics, people flocked to the hospitals to get their booster shot.
According to the ministry’s data, 96 COVID-19 patients lost their lives, while more than 124,732 people recovered from the infection between July 11 and 17.
Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in March 2020, the coronavirus has infected more than 15.5 million people and killed nearly 100,000 in Türkiye.
“The daily vaccination figures in [the southeastern province of] Gaziantep, which had decreased to 30-40, increased to 700, with the number of cases increased rapidly to 300,” said Ümit Mutlu Tiryaki, Gaziantep’s provincial health director.
People with chronic illnesses should get the booster shot if six months have passed since their last vaccination, Tiryaki added.
“The most effective and primary measure to be taken is to reintroduce the face mask mandate on public transport,” said Osman Müftüoğlu, a prominent expert, adding that the number of cases is a clear warning of the arrival of a new wave of COVID-19.
We are still under a serious threat and the preventive measures should always be on the agenda, according to Müftüoğlu.
Müftüoğlu also pointed out that the new sub-variants have quite different characteristics. “It is not known whether the vaccines will be effective enough against BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants.”
The number of daily COVID-19 cases in Türkiye has increased up to 40 times, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has announced on July 19, while warning citizens to be cautious.
“As I said before the [Eid al-Adha] holiday, we strongly recommend that those over 50 and in the high-risk group should get the booster shot and wear their face masks in crowded places,” the minister said.
While the proportion of those who have received two doses of the jab is around 85.5 percent across the country, failure to reach the desired level in the third dose is the biggest risk, according to the experts.
The country launched the vaccination program with the jab developed by the Chinese company Sinovac and then added the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to its arsenal of vaccines.
In December 2021, Türkiye rolled out its domestically developed vaccine Turkovac.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started to work towards the possible approval of bivalent vaccines, evaluating initial data from mRNA vaccines from Moderna and BioNTech, according to Pierre Delsaux, the director-general of the commission’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
Bivalent vaccines cross-neutralize two COVID-19 variants in one shot.
The studies were focused on building a vaccine to target the original strain along with both BA.4 and BA.5, the sub-variants of Omicron.