Turkey plans to vaccinate 12 million people by early March

Turkey is planning to vaccinate up to 12 million people by the first week of March as it expects to receive another 10 million doses of the Chinese coronavirus injection until then.

Additional 6.5 million doses of the jab, developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac, arrived in Turkey on Jan. 25, which came on top of the 3 million doses of the vaccine delivered in late December 2020.

According to authorities, another 10 million doses of the injection could arrive in the country within 15 days.

Following the 14-day analysis of the Chinese vaccine at local laboratories, the authorities approved the jab for emergency use and Turkey launched its mass inoculation program on Jan. 14 starting with health care professionals. The inoculation drive this week further expanded to include people aged over 80.

Authorities’ plans as to who to proceed with the inoculation program in the weeks to come are based on the expected delivery of the vaccines.

As it was the case with the first batch of the Chinese injection, the next deliveries will be tested in local laboratories. Thus, 6.5 million doses of the jab will be available in the second week of February. The number of people vaccinated will reach 6 million by the end of February.

When the 10 million doses arrive, Turkey will have a total of 16.5 million doses of the coronavirus injection which could be administered to people under risk and mobile, such as those aged over 65 and teachers as well as members of the military and police force until the first week of March.

There are more than 8 million people aged over 65, 1 million teachers, 1 million military personnel and 1 million members of the police force in Turkey.

More than 1.3 million people, including health care workers and the elderly, have already received the first dose of the vaccine. The jab is administered in two doses, 28 days apart.

Authorities are also discussing when and how to ease the virus-related restrictions. Some argue that schools, restaurants and cafes may reopen gradually starting from the second half of February, while others suggest it would be much appropriate to wait until the second half of March.

Those who favor early reopening maintain that restaurant and cafe owners that experienced the adverse effects of the first wave of the outbreak will act more cautiously this time round and new rules to be imposed may also help to contain the spread of the virus. They also suggest that the country’s health system will not be overwhelmed even if the number of cases, which has been hovering at around 5,000 recently, rises to 15,000 or 20,000 infections.

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