Turkey might bring COVID-19 under control by autumn, says expert
Turkey might effectively bring the pandemic under control around October if vaccinations gather momentum during summer, with 120 million doses of mRNA jabs promised to be delivered to the country, according to Professor Serap Şimşek Yavuz, a member of the Health Ministry’s Science Board.
A single shot of the mRNA jab reduces the rate of infection by 70 percent, and two doses of this vaccine lower hospitalizations and deaths as much as by 90 percent, Yavuz said, but warning that in the current phase, if the restrictions are eased, coronavirus cases would definitely start to rise again.
“COVID-19 has become a preventable disease but will not disappear. It will become something like the flu, and we think the coronavirus vaccines will need to be administered periodically. If some 70 percent of the population is inoculated, people may no longer need to wear a face mask,” she added.
The number of coronavirus cases has been declining steadily over the past few weeks, significantly due to the full nationwide lockdown, which remained in place from April 29 to May 17.
The number of infections, which hit a record high of 60,000 daily cases, has been hovering below 10,000 since May 20.
Yavuz also suggested that vaccine hesitancy in Turkey was not as wide as some people believe.
“This hesitancy will fade away as vaccines start to arrive and the inoculations gather pace. Campaigns, informative meetings and videos will help to convince people to get their shots, and question marks over the vaccine will disappear,” she noted.
Health Minister Fahrettion Koca recently said Turkey had made deals to receive 100 million doses of Sinovac, 120 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and 50 million doses of Sputnik vaccines.
Turkey is expecting to receive some 5 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine early next week.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has launched a campaign dubbed “We are rolling up our sleeves” to encourage the public to get vaccinated.
The country is gradually expanding the scope of the vaccination program. People aged over 50 will start to be given the COVID-19 from June 1 onwards. People with disabilities were added to the inoculation drive this week.
Officials aim to widen the vaccination program to include more groups, including those aged 18 until autumn at the latest.
Turkey has administered more than 28.6 million vaccine doses since it rolled out its vaccination program on Jan. 14. Nearly 16.4 million people have received the first dose, while more than 12.2 million people have been fully inoculated.