Turkey may take two years to vaccinate population against COVID-19, medical association says

A shortage of doses and existing issues in the health system mean it may take Turkey two years to vaccinate its population, the Turkish Medical Association (TBB) said on Thursday.

The assessment was based on findings by the TTB’s monitoring board, following a review of the 11 months. Since the country’s first COVID-19 infection, the association said in an online press conference.

Over 2,800,000 people have received a first dose of vaccine since Turkey began a mass roll-out on Jan. 14, approximately  3.5 percent of the population, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday.

But problems with the appointment and data system, as well as the existing limitations in primary healthcare services, were impeding the inoculation programme, the TTB said.

And Turkey has yet to secure the 120 million doses necessary to cover its adult population, the association said.

Turkey has received 3 million doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac jab, and is expected to start taking delivery of 4.5 doses of the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine at the end of the month.

Officials have also agreed a deal to begin domestic manufacture of the Sputnik V jab developed by Russia.

The TBB also raised concerns over regional disparities in vaccination rates. Between 70 and 90 percent of those eligible above the age of 75 had revived a dose in metropolitan areas, the association said. But this fell below 30 percent in parts of Turkey’s predominantly-Kurdish eastern regions.  

“Just as there is inequality in the pandemic, there similar inequality in vaccination,” the TBB said.