Turkey's healthcare workers to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine on Dec.11

Turkey’s healthcare workers will be administered a China-produced coronavirus vaccine as of Dec. 11, the health minister announced on Tuesday, in line with an announcement made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the weekend.

Turkey is currently in phase-3 trials of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, on high-risk health care workers and medium-risk volunteers. No major side effects have been reported, according to the country’s officials.

Ankara has signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of the vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech, and also shown interest in purchasing the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

Over the weekend, Erdoğan had announced that the vaccine would be administered free of charge, starting with healthcare workers in December.

“In December, we will have obtained at least 10 million, but most likely around 20 million, of the (Sinovac) vaccine,” Diken news site cited the country’s top healthcare official, Fahrettin Koca, as saying. “We are in efforts to further increase these numbers.”

Turkey is also conducting studies to develop its own coronavirus vaccine.

“Our Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board is preparing a road map for vaccination, and it will be clear in a week which people would be prioritized first,” Koca said.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 30,110 new cases and a record 190 deaths in the last 24 hours. These figures place the country among those with the highest daily new infections, including Brazil and the United States.