Vaccination helps keep severe virus cases under control in Turkey
Nuray Babacan - Ankara
The number of coronavirus cases has leaped in Turkey after the country moved to the controlled normalization phase, but this has not yet overwhelmed hospitals’ intensive care units thanks to vaccinations against COVID-19.
Infections have increased as much as 300 percent after the government announced normalization measures three weeks ago, however, the occupancy rate at intensive care units (ICU) has risen 25 percent. This was largely due to the vaccination of most of some 8 million people aged over 65.
Only 9 percent of this age group has not yet received their jabs and most of those are women.
Experts reckoned that the sharp increase in the infections, which they describe as the third wave in the outbreak, is related to virus variants. However, they pointed that the fatality rate has been rather low.
People needed to wait up to 72 hours to be admitted to ICUs in November and December last year when the daily cases hovered around 32,000, but presently hospitals are not facing a rush to those units.
They also stressed that in the past months, people aged over 65 accounted for 85 percent of all ICU patients.
In late December 2020, when Turkey had not yet started its vaccination program, the number of patients in critical condition was over 5,000, however, the latest data from the Health Ministry show that there were fewer than 2,000 critically ill patients in hospitals over the past week.
Also, the ICU occupancy rate, which was over 70 percent in late December, dropped to 65 percent as of March 22.
Experts also said that the upward trend in the virus cases is likely to continue into April, but infections may start to decline in the second half of next month as people gather in outdoor places thanks to warmer weather.
Turkey started mass vaccinations on Jan. 14, administering nearly 14 million doses of the jab since then. Over 8 million people received the first dose of the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac, while nearly 5.6 million people have been administered both doses.
Turkey will receive 10 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by April, according to some officials. The expected delay stems from the fact that China is intensively vaccinating its citizens and there has been growing demand for the Chinese jab from other countries, official said.
There are also claims suggesting that talks for the procurement of the vaccine is taking time because China asked for a higher price for the jab from Turkey.