Cancer patients should be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccination schedule as they are in the highest risk group, a Turkish doctor said on Wednesday.

“Fatalities due to COVID-19 among cancer patients are higher than in all other groups. Cancer patients, who are in the highest risk group for the virus, must have priority in the vaccination calendar,” Dr. Yavuz Anacak, the head of the Turkish Radiation Oncology Association, said in a statement ahead of the World Cancer Day.

Alsancak urged all authorities to prioritize cancer patients in the vaccination schedule.

Underlining that cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, he said 18 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year and nearly 10 million people die due to cancer in the world.

“Those patients contracting the virus are struggling to overcome both cancer and COVID-19,” he said, adding that weakening of immunity caused by cancer, severe surgical operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy processes also adversely affect people diagnosed with COVID-19.

Turkey began a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Jan. 14, starting with healthcare workers along with top officials to encourage public confidence in the vaccines.

​​​​​​​Since early December, Turkey has also been implementing curfews on nights and weekends to curb the spread of the virus.

The pandemic has so far claimed more than 2.25 million lives in 192 countries and regions since it emerged in December 2019, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University. More than 103.87 million cases and over 57.67 million recoveries have been reported worldwide.

* Writing by Gozde Bayar in Ankara

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