Turkey targets to vaccinate 60% of population

Vaccination of teachers set to begin towards end of February, says health minister

Turkey targets to vaccine 60% of its population, with the second doses of vaccines for people who got the first jab set to start on Thursday, the country’s health minister said on Wednesday.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Ankara following the meeting of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, Fahrettin Koca said teachers, especially those who will join in-person education, will start receiving vaccine shots towards the end of February.

Turkey announced last week that village schools and kindergartens will resume in-person education on Feb. 15.

Starting on March 1, primary schools, including all grades, will resume in-person education twice a week.

Also, schools will open their doors for students of grades 8 and 12 on March 1 to help them prepare for high school and university entrance exams.

Koca said Turkey ensured at least 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and reached an agreement on over 100 million doses of vaccines in total. He added the country will receive 500,000-800,000 doses of BioNTech vaccine in February, with the total number reaching 4.5-5 million by end of March.

“Our citizens must know that we are trying to buy the vaccine from all firms that can provide it until March or April,” he explained.

The minister called on the senior statesmen and the Cabinet members to receive the vaccine shots as of Saturday.

Local vaccine candidates

Phase-2 human trials of leading local vaccine candidate started on Wednesday, the minister said, and added that phase-1 studies for at least three more local vaccine candidates will start in around 10 days.

As of next Monday, the average number of cases for the last seven days will be broadcast live based on provinces, he remarked.

On the new mutations of the coronavirus, Koca said 263 UK variants, 23 South Africa variants, and 106 unknown origins were detected in Turkey.

Underlining that it might be possible to ease certain restrictions based on provinces or regions in accordance with the criteria that the advisory board will determine, Koca said the committee recommends not rushing into easing restrictions.

Turkey on Wednesday reported more than 8,600 new infections and 95 more fatalities. The overall case count has now passed 2.55 million, with the death toll at 27,093, according to the Health Ministry.

Anadolu Agency

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