Turkey to receive 12M BioNTech vaccines till next weekend

By Mumin Altas

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey will receive 12 million doses of BioNTech vaccine gradually till next weekend, according to the country’s health minister.

“In our talk with Ugur Sahin (the CEO and co-founder of BioNTech), he said he got permission to export 12 million doses of vaccine,” Fahrettin Koca told reporters following a news conference after Monday’s Cabinet meeting.

“They said, ‘Starting this week, we’re sending these 12 million vaccines gradually till next weekend’,” Koca said.

He added that if delivery takes place as planned, people as young as 20 years old can start getting vaccinated at the end of June.

On removal of masks, he said that at least 60% of the nation should be vaccinated to establish public immunity.

“We are not going to recommend removal of masks until widespread vaccination is conducted,” he noted, adding that only those who are vaccinated then may be exempt from the mask-wearing obligation.

The rate of administered vaccination is increasing, Koca said, adding that Turkey has prepared a vaccination campaign that lets people choose among three different vaccines.

To date, Turkey has been giving the Sinovac and BioNTech jabs, and signed an agreement for the Sputnik V vaccine.

Everyone living in the country will be vaccinated until the indigenous vaccine will be put in use in September, Koca said, adding that the local vaccine will then be a reminder dose.

Turkey has multiple vaccine candidates in development, including seven under Turkey’s COVID-19 Platform.

An inactivated coronavirus vaccine developed by Turkish scientists was included on a list of jabs recognized by the World Health Organization in early May.

Turkey has so far administered over 29.21 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in mid-January, according to official figures on Tuesday.

More than 16.64 million people have received their first doses, while over 12.56 million have been fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry's count showed.

* Contributions and writing by Sena Guler