Get our newsletter delivered directly to your inbox
I have already subscribed | Do not show this message again
Your email has been successfully registered.
Amid a surge in infections and deaths, the Turkish Health Minister announced a plan to distribute the experimental Chinese vaccination against COVID-19, CoronaVac.
Fahrettin Koca has previously announced an agreement made to purchase 50 million doses from the Chinese firm Biotech Sinovac for its CoronaVac vaccine, currently in late-stage trials.
Koca announced late Wednesday that the first shipment of the vaccine would arrive in Turkey on December 11, and that early authorization would be granted once Turkish labs confirm the labs are both safe and effective after initial results from the most recent trials.
Hopeful about the vaccine's prospects, Koca stated: "If developments continue positively as we expect, Turkey would be among the first countries in the world to begin vaccinations in the early phase."
A study published by The Lancet in November about the efficacy of Sinovac's vaccine candidate, based on initial clinical trials, found the vaccine's efficiency to be moderate, producing lower levels of anti-bodies than thos found in most patients who had already recovered from COVID-19.
While vaccine candidates from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have said they have more than 90% efficiency rates, and the UK's AstraZeneca has an efficiency rate of 70-90 percent—all based on limited clinical trials—the November study on CoronVac stated that "the protective efficacy of CoronaVac remains to be determined."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the vaccine would be administered free of charge, and the health minister said that it would be done so in four stages.
The first stage will include healthcare workers, citizens over 65 years old, and people living in homes for the elderly or other vulnerable groups. The next stage would include essential workers and people over 50 years old with at least one chronic disease.
The third phase would include individuals under 50 years old with one chronic condition, other workers and young people, whereas the fourth phase will include the rest of the population, the health minister said.
“We will take delivery of at least 10 million doses of the vaccine in December and likely 20 million. Another 20 million doses in January and 10 million in February,” Koca said earlier this week, noting that Turkey's population is 83 million. Other COVID-19 vaccines would be available for purchase in pharmacies, he noted.
Turkey unveiled a coronavirus vaccination plan starting with Chinese experimental vaccine CoronaVac later this month amid a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths. https://t.co/ZymejhAIDh
Turkey reported193 new deaths on Wednesday, with the total death toll in the country reaching 14,129 people.
The daily number of infections hit a record high of 31,923 on Thursday, as the country resumed reporting all positive cases last week after four months of releasing only the numbers of patients with symptoms.
The new daily infection numbers currently puts Turkey among the worst-hit in the world.
While vaccine trials usually take years, they have been drastically sped-up given the global pandemic, and as such, Turkey has been included in the trial phases of both the CoronaVac and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The country is also developing a local vaccine, and the health minister, in December, previously announced an agreement for one million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be delivered sometime in December.