Turkey aims to vaccinate 60 percent of population: Minister

Turkey aims to vaccinate 60 percent of population: Minister

Turkey aims to vaccinate 60 percent of population: Minister

Turkey is targeting to vaccinate at least 60 percent of the population against COVID-19, the country’s health minister has said.

“We have already vaccinated some 3.5 percent of the population, which many people may think is not too high. However, our country’s success in vaccination is clear if considering the fact that the vaccination rate in Germany, one of the vaccine producing nations in the world, is 3.7 percent,” Fahrettin Koca said on Feb. 10, following the Health Ministry’s Science Board meeting.

Turkey is using all alternatives available at hand to reach the vaccination target, he added.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 11 got the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I have received second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Hopefully, we aim to vaccinate all our citizens as soon as possible," Erdoğan said via his message on BiP, a popular Turkish messaging app, and Telegram.

The country rolled out its inoculation drive on Jan. 14. To date, more than 2.8 million people, mostly health care workers and the elderly, received the first dose of the Chinese virus vaccine.

Health care staff started to get the second dose on Feb. 11. Koca and members of the Science Board received the second dose of the vaccine on Feb. 10.

Teachers will also be administered their first doses toward the end of February, according to Koca.

The minister noted that Turkey has already ensured at least 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and reached an agreement on over 100 million doses of the injection in total.

“Some 500,000-800,000 doses of BioNTech vaccine will arrive in February, with the total number reaching 4.5-5 million by the end of March,” Koca said.

He recalled that the agreement was already signed for 50 million doses of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac. “Another deal was inked for 50 million doses,” the minister added.

“Our citizens must know that we are trying to buy the vaccine from all firms that can provide it until March or April,” Koca said.

He informed that phase two human trials of the leading local vaccine candidate started on Feb. 10 and added that phase one studies for at least three more local vaccine candidates will start in around 10 days.

To date, 263 U.K. variants, 23 South Africa variants, and 106 with unknown origins have been detected in Turkey, Koca also said, without naming the provinces the variants were found in.

The minister acknowledged that the number of daily injections has been on the rise but noted that there is no indication that the cases are rising faster in the provinces where the virus variants were detected.

The Science Board favors keeping the current restrictions in place and presently it does not consider advising the introduction of additional measures, he said.

“Depending on the number of cases recorded in individual provinces, some restrictions may be eased in some provinces while measures could be tightened in others starting March,” Koca added.