Turkey lags behind other countries in COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Turkey is lagging behind other developed nations in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, news outlet Arti Gercek reported on Monday, citing available data on the matter.

Since the vaccination drive began in January, Turkey has vaccinated 2,604,000 citizens as of Feb. 6, which is just over three percent of its population. 

This has put Turkey ahead in absolute number of vaccinations than some European countries including Germany or France, but it is a smaller amount in terms of proportion of their total population, Artı Gerçek said.

Israel is the number one country in terms of vaccinations distributed to its population. The United States, United Kingdom, and China also ranked as among the fastest countries in vaccinating their citizens. 

Turkey’s vaccine rollout was hobbled by a number of problems.

One issue was that the government only had initially placed orders with one company, China’s SinoVac, and the first delivery was postponed by an outbreak in the country. Another issue was the number purchased was insufficient to provide vaccinations to a large portion of its population of 83 million. 

The Turkish Ministry of Health also placed an order for 5 million doses from BioNTech-Pfizer, but the process has been mired by finger-pointing on both sides. Fahrettin Koca, Turkey's health minister, said that the company wanted liability assurances ahead of delivering the vaccine while BioNTech-Pfizer blamed bureaucratic obstacles from Turkish regulators for the delay. 

Currently, there are 2,539,559 active cases in the country, where 26,900 people have died from the virus. According to official data, daily cases are climbing by up to 1500 per day.