Turkey's COVID-19 situation better than Europe, US: WHO
The COVID-19 situation in Turkey is not as bad as in other European countries or the U.S. due to measures concerning masks and social distancing, according to the World Health Organization’s Office in Turkey.
An interview conducted on Dec. 4 by German news outlet Deutsche Welle’s Turkish service with the WHO Office in Turkey about the latest COVID-19 situation in the country and the world was "unfortunately" misinterpreted by some media outlets, WHO Turkey said on Dec. 6 on Twitter.
Sharing the interview on social media, it said: "Situation globally is alarming as cases are increasing and with the winter as we go more indoors, cases are only likely to increase".
Speaking on Turkey's approach toward fighting COVID-19, WHO Turkey underlined that when it comes to the number of cases, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said nothing that is not shared with the Turkish people first is shared with anyone outside.
The WHO is asking all member states to report all positive cases, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic.
"In the case of Turkey, at least we are picking up ‘asymptomatic’ and assuring isolation and quarantine so we are picking a proportion of asymptomatic to curb this silent spread in Turkey," it added.
Speaking on the transparency of Turkey on the number of cases, it stressed: "Turkey managed well since start. We are not as bad as in other countries now too. But we all must remain committed to all mitigation measures."
Turkey, its Health Ministry and the WHO have a very strong relationship. The WHO’s regional director has visited Turkey twice in the last six months, which indicates very strong bilateral relations between the two entities, it said.
Commenting on the reliability of the Chinese vaccine that Turkey ordered, it said the "WHO does not validate or not any vaccine, diagnostic, or treatment per se. We share evidence and guidance."
Approval or non-approval of vaccines is at the discretion of organizations in the related countries, especially in emergencies.
It said vaccine manufacturers under WHO COVAX share data with the WHO and others, adding they have the second phase data for the Chinese vaccine but have not yet received the third phase data.
"However, the Chinese vaccine uses a long-established reliable PH technique of inactivated virus.
"Turkey has done its vaccine distribution and allocation plan and prioritized population sub-groups in line with WHO guidance. But still, it will be months before vaccine gets to everyone," it added.
Local vaccine studies moving to next phase
Studies for a Turkish-made coronavirus vaccine is slated to enter phase 2 after Dec. 15, a researcher has said.
As part of the phase-one studies of the ERUCOV-VAC vaccine, 44 volunteers were vaccinated with the first dose in early November and no side effects have been reported, according to Ahmet İnal, deputy head of a clinical practice and research center in central Kayseri province.
The lack of safety concerns in phase 1 allowed them to move on to test the second dose on the volunteers, which started on Nov. 26.
After phase one evaluations completed, the phase 2 studies are planned to start in two weeks, İnal said.
“We have checked all data of the vaccine, the local vaccine is pretty safe,” he said, adding that around 200-250 volunteers are planned to be vaccinated in phase 2.
The vaccine should be put in use as soon as possible to curb the spread of the virus, he noted.
“Because we have 82-million population. When we think of vaccinating two doses in a year, it makes 164 million [doses],” İnal said.
He said, for instance, China will produce 600 million doses of vaccine, but it cannot sell all of it as it has to think of its own people too.
“What Turkey will get is 50 million doses. Therefore, you should certainly complete your own vaccine,” he said, noting that under current circumstances, states cannot get the whole amount of vaccine they need from outside even though they pay for it.
“Because you cannot buy something that does not exist,” İnal said.
The ERUCOV-VAC is being developed at the Erciyes University with support from Turkey’s Institutes of Health Administration (TÜSEB).