Turkey receives 3.5 million more doses of virus vaccine
A Turkish Airlines plane that departed from Beijing landed at Istanbul Airport at 6.10 a.m. local time carrying the 3.5 million doses of the injection, developed by the Chinese pharma firm Sinovac.
The second consignment of 6.5 million doses of the inactivated jab were delivered on Jan. 25, following an initial consignment of 3 million doses at the end of December 2020.
Turkey tests the vaccines at its laboratories for 14 days upon their arrival before administering them to the public.
The country rolled out its vaccination program on Jan. 14. It has so far vaccinated more than 1.7 million people, mostly frontline health workers and elderly people.
Turkey is also conducting works to develop its own vaccine against the coronavirus.
Vaccines being developed in the country are set to enter the clinical study phase, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Jan. 28.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Turkey has the third largest number of COVID-19 vaccine projects in the world, behind only the U.S. and China, said Erdoğan.
“We have launched a science campaign with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) COVID-19 Platform. In this platform, 436 researchers are carrying out 17 projects on vaccine and drug development,” the president said.
The vaccination in Turkey is not mandatory but authorities are strongly urging the public to get the shot.
The coronavirus injection is administered in two doses, 28 days apart.
Erdoğan and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca were among the first to be vaccinated to boost public confidence in the vaccine. Some political leaders also followed suit.
Koca warned that the pandemic situation is still “serious,” calling on people to strictly adhere to the anti-virus rules and restrictions.
“We cannot overlook the seriousness of the situation. Also, for the success of the vaccination program, we need to comply with the measures and curbs,” the minister tweeted on Jan. 28, noting that the daily number of cases was above 7,000.
As part of those measures aimed at bringing the spread of the outbreak under control, Turkey has been imposing weeknight curfews and full lockdowns on weekends since December 2020.