By Abidin Mutlu Bozdag
ISTANBUL (AA) – A plane carrying the second batch of a COVID-19 vaccine ordered from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. arrived early Monday in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 plane, which departed from Beijing, landed at Istanbul Airport at 6.15 a.m. local time (0315 GMT).
Containers containing the vaccine were taken from the aircraft after customs procedures and moved to warehouses.
A total of 6.5 million doses of the inactive COVID-19 vaccine were brought in the first part of the second shipment of 10 million doses.
Mass vaccinations began in Turkey on Jan. 14 after the first batch of 3 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrived on Dec. 30. Later, a second consignment of 10 million doses was approved.
Over 1.23 million people, mostly health workers and the elderly, have been inoculated since Jan. 14.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the first to be vaccinated to boost public confidence in the vaccine.
The government has also introduced nighttime and weekend curfews to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed more than 2.12 million lives in 192 countries and regions.
Over 99 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries now over 54.7 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.
The US, India and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of cases.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar