Vaccine drive to cover 70 pct of population by end of July, says minister

Vaccine drive to cover 70 pct of population by end of July, says minister

Vaccine drive to cover 70 pct of population by end of July, says minister

Turkey aims to give at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 70 percent of its population by the end of July, the country’s health minister has said.

Since the start of the inoculation drive in mid-January, the country has administered over 51 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines, with well over 15 million people fully vaccinated.

“The number of people who have received at least one dose of vaccine is more than 35 million [while] 57 percent of our population aged 18 and above has been vaccinated,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter on July 1.

“Our goal is to reach 70 percent by the [Muslim Eid al-Adha] holiday [which falls around July 20 this year]. Let’s prioritize getting vaccinated,” he said.

Data from the Health Ministry show that more than 35 million have received their first dose.

Turkey this week began to give a third dose of the vaccine starting with health care workers and those aged 50 and above, as the cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is picking up globally.

However, experts say that those who have received the Sinovac vaccine will be prioritized.

“For the time being, there is no need to give a third dose to those who have already been inoculated with the BioNTech jab,” Afşin Emre Korkmaz from the Health Ministry’s Science Board said.

Depending on the results of the scientific studies, it will be clear whether the recipients of the BioNTech vaccine should be administered a third dose, Korkmaz added.

“It is up to people to choose between the Sinovac and BioNTech vaccines as their third dose. Those who had been given the Sinovac jab can get the BioNTech shot this time around,” he said.

Turkey has been using the COVID-19 vaccines developed by the Chinese company Sinovac and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Korkmaz said that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine could also be made available in the coming days, noting that the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency (TİTCK) was running necessary tests on this injection.

Late last month, Koca said that 400,000 doses of the Sputnik V jab had arrived in Turkey and that tests would be conducted on this jab before adding it to the country’s arsenal of vaccines.

COVID-19 has infected more than 5.4 million people since it was first detected in March 2020 in the country. The death toll from the pandemic has neared 50,000.