Turkey to pay five-fold for Chinese vaccine - Fmr WHO EU director

Dr Serdar Savaş, former program director of World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe, told daily Sözcü on Friday that Turkey had commissioned a coronavirus vaccine developed in China at exorbitant prices, and pointed to other concerns with the deal.

Indonesia has signed a contract with China to purchase the Sinovac at $13 per vaccine dose, while Turkey’s contract is for $70 per dose, according to Savaş. The doctor said:

“At 50 million doses, the $57 price difference will cost Turkey $2.85 billion. How could this disparity be explained?”

The first batch of vaccines was set to arrive in Turkey in early December, but shipment was delayed. Turkish news network HaberTurk reported on Sunday that the vaccines arrived the Istanbul Airport on Sunday.

On Dec. 4, Washington Post published court documents from 2016 that showed Sinovac’s CEO bribing China’s drug regulation body to fast-track approval for its previous vaccines, such as the ones for SARS and the swine flu.

“Was this the only one (Turkey) could find as it searched for a trustworthy company to produce a vaccine?” asked Savaş, as he raised further questions on the vaccine’s efficacy.

Sinovac conducted trials with persons aged 18 to 59, Savaş said. “But Turkey is planning to use this vaccine on people over the age of 65. The study in Turkey has not made public its volunteer profiles, including the number of volunteers, their ages, or their clinical backgrounds.”

Turkey may not be purchasing the vaccine directly from Sinovac, instead going through a representative, Sözcü columnist Serpil Yılmaz wrote,citing Ethem Sancak, a close friend of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who owns a chain of pharmaceutical warehouses.

Sancak said on Dec. 5 that his Sancak Pharma was not scheduled to receive the vaccine for storage. “But we are holding meetings for distribution to vaccine companies,” Sancak told OdaTV.

An amendment to Turkey’s bylaws on medical licensing on Dec. 18 allowed for emergency licensing “for vaccines that don’t yet provide extensive data on efficacy, safety and quality that constitute the basis for licensing to be used in exceptional circumstances that seriously threaten public health.”

The new bylaws could result in lower-quality vaccines to be administered to the people, Savaş said.

Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers, Erdoğan told reporters that 4.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine were set to arrive on Monday and repeated Koca’s previous statement that vaccination would start with healthcare workers.

On Friday, Turkey announced 256 deaths and 17,543 new cases. The country has recorded more than 2.1 million cases since March, and a total of 19,371 people have died.

Turkey's coronavirus figures for Dec. 25
Turkey's coronavirus figures for Dec. 25. Source: http://covid19.saglik.gov.tr/