ANKARA

Chinese authorities have approved delivery to Turkey of COVID-19 vaccines set to be sent this coming Sunday, according to Turkey’s health minister.

Speaking after Thursday’s meeting of the country’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Committee, Fahrettin Koca said the Chinese vaccine boasts an effectiveness of 91.25%.

“With the evaluations of the Scientific Committee, we are sure of the effect of the vaccine on Turkish people using it in our country.

“We are now confident that the vaccine is effective and safe for Turkish people,” he added.

Nearly 9 million people in Turkey are set to get vaccinated in the first stage, and coronavirus vaccinations could be given to some 1.5 million or even 2 million people daily, he said.

He also said that starting with health care professionals, people in the top three priority groups will be vaccinated in January, February, and March, or in April at the latest.

‘Among 1st to get vaccine’

“Together with health care professionals, I will be one of the first people to get the vaccine,” Koca added.

Turkey is planning to bring 4.5 million doses of BioNTech vaccine by the end of March, including some 1-1.5 million in January, he said.

The details of contract for an optional vaccine of up to 30 million doses are to be signed tonight or tomorrow at the latest, he said.

He pointed out that to date, 325 people per 1 million population in Germany, 789 in Sweden, 984 in the US, 994 in the UK died from coronavirus in Germany.

“The number of fatalities per million population in Turkey has reached 216,” he added.

He also stressed that recently, countries such as the UK have been trying to explain the uncontrolled increase in cases by linking the mutation of the virus.

Over 18,000 new COVID-19 cases

Turkey on Thursday reported 18,102 more coronavirus infections and 254 new fatalities over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

The new cases include 3,218 symptomatic patients and the total number of infections exceeded 2.1 million.

As many as 33,985 people also recovered in the past day, bringing the tally to 1.93 million, while the death toll climbed to 19,115.

An additional 195,675 COVID-19 tests were done across the country, pushing the total to over 23.22 million.

The number of patients in critical condition stands at 4,805.

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 1.73 million lives in 191 countries and regions since last December.

Over 79 million cases have been reported worldwide, with more than 44.53 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of the number of cases.

While new restrictions are being imposed ahead of the holiday season, especially across Europe, countries are approving and procuring vaccines to pave the way for the hopeful end of the pandemic.

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