Turkey targets vaccinating up to 35 million people by March, says health minister
Turkey targets to complete the vaccination of between 30 million to 35 million people by March in a massive inoculation drive, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, adding that this will provide “a significant relief” in the country’s fight against the outbreak.
In the first stage, which will cover a period of three months, the jabs will be administered to the most vulnerable 30 million to 35 million people, Fahrettin Koca told daily Hürriyet.
“But the biggest relief will come when 60 percent of the entire population is vaccinated. I am predicting that this target will be met as of June . The 60 percent means the vaccination of 50 million people,” Koca said.
He explained that vaccine production will increase globally and the locally developed jab against COVID-19 is likely to be in use by then. “By taking those factors into account, I can say that the 60 percent vaccination target can be achieved by June,” the minister added.
Koca also announced that Turkey signed a deal with BioNTech to buy a COVID-19 vaccine the the Germany-based company jointly produced with Pfizer.
Initially, 550,000 doses of the injection will be sent to the country by the end of the year or early 2021 at the latest, the minister wrote on Twitter on Dec. 25.
According to Koca, 4.5 million doses of the vaccine will be delivered to the country by the end of March 2021 under the agreement.
Turkey could have access to up to 30 million doses as part of the deal, Koca said, adding that the delay in the process was because the company did not want to take any responsibility for possible production problems.
The vaccination will be based on written consent, Koca added.
Turkey also signed an agreement for the procurement of a total of 50 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac.
The first batch of 3 million doses of the vaccine is expected to arrive in Turkey on Dec. 28.
Interim results from phase 3 trials showed that the Chinese injection is 91.25 percent effective, Koca announced last week following the Health Ministry’s Science Board meeting.
One member of the board said that no major side-effects were seen during the trial.
Common adverse effects caused by the vaccine were fever, mild pain and slight fatigue, explained Professor Serhat Ünal from the Science Board.