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Pandemic to lose steam in 2022, expects say

Pandemic to lose steam in 2022, expects say

Turkey faces a harsh COVID-19 winter but the disease will eventually evolve into simple flu in 2022, according to professor Tevfik Özlü, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board.

Özlü’s statement reflects concerns in Turkey where the number of COVID-19 cases rarely go below 28,000 nowadays. Daily fatalities dropped below 200 on Sunday but often fluctuate above this number, a worrying sign for the country despite the increased vaccination rate.

Factors vary in the new surge, which is only worsened by the fast-spreading delta variant. Young people, or those below the age of 30, make up more than half of COVID-19 cases. Increased mobility after a return to in-person education last month and apparent neglect of mandatory mask and social distancing rules contribute to this new wave of cases.

Experts had already predicted the new surge in autumn, a time when more people spend time indoors and in crowded places. As a matter of fact, the country was forced to reintroduce tough restrictions last autumn in the face of a steep rise in the number of cases. As the same scenario repeats itself, Özlü said winter will only be more challenging, in terms of the pandemic’s impact. So, how can the country beat this impact? In an interview with the Turkish daily, Hürriyet, he highlighted the need to step up vaccination.

The vaccination program, in parallel with a new normalization process this summer, was opened up for more people. The eligibility limit for the CoronaVac and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines was lowered to 15. With more than 112 million doses administered so far, Turkey has made significant progress. Yet, younger people tend to embrace vaccine hesitancy, a major obstacle to the vaccination program, according to experts.