Turkey logs highest daily COVID-19 death toll

Turkey logged its highest ever daily COVID-19 death toll of 394 on Friday , according to data released by the Health Ministry.

There were 31,891 new coronavirus cases in the same period, according to the data.

Turkey ranks fourth globally in number of daily cases based on a seven-day average, according to a Reuters tally. After an easing of measures in March, infections and deaths surged to record highs in April.

On April 29, the country entered a tight lockdown that is to last until May 17.

Turkey’s COVID-19 vaccine programme has suffered from supply issues. But the health service has enough doses at the moment and more jabs will be coming soon from Russia and China, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  said on Friday.

"I don't accept that we will have any issues with vaccine procurement," Erdoğan said.

"With the talks we are carrying out with Russia now, the Sputnik V vaccine is on its way," he said, adding that he would speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the procurement if necessary.

Erdoğan said Turkey expected to receive a "serious" amount of doses from Moscow and Beijing.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey had signed a deal for 50 million Sputnik V doses that would start to arrive in May and help address a short-term drop in supply.

Turkish medical authorities said on Friday they had granted an emergency use authorisation for Sputnik V.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing Sputnik V, said a Turkish firm would also produce the jab at its plants.

Turkey has been using vaccines developed by China's SinoVac Biotech and Pfizer/BioNTech, so far.

Nearly 14 million people, or 16 per cent of the population, have had at least one shot and another 9 million have been fully inoculated.

Later on Friday, Koca said Turkey would receive 1 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot in May and there were no issues with an option to procure another 30 million in June. 

He said Turkey currently had a stock of 6 million vaccines from SinoVac and Pfizer/BioNTech, adding that the Sputnik V vaccine would begin to be administered "as soon as possible".

Unfortunately, the SinoVac vaccine has been found to be only about 50 per cent effective.

In a Jan. 7 statement, Koca pointed to SinoVac’s 78 percent efficacy rate for moderate cases during a Brazilian trial, and said the vaccine provides 100 percent efficacy in severe cases. 

But referencing the same findings, Germany-based neuroscientist Çağhan Kızıl said the efficacy rate of the Chinese vaccine actually stands at 50.38 percent, posting a screen shot from Brazilian TV backing his claim on social media.