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Turkey administers over 58 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines amid variant warning

Turkey administers over 58 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines amid variant warning

Turkey administered over 58 million doses COVID-19 vaccines, according to official figures released on Monday.
More than 17 million people now have both doses but the country still has a long way to go. Experts, in the meantime, warn that vaccination is key to prevent the pandemic from prevailing with its new variants.

“Variants will take hold without vaccination,” professor Rahmet Güner, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, said.

Vaccines are widely available in the country, including Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech. However, people hesitating to have their jabs worry the authorities who are seeking to achieve mass immunity before the end of the summer in the country of more than 83 million people.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned Sunday that it was becoming “difficult” to maintain the decline in cases in provinces in the “red category” while indicating on an accompanying map showing provinces with low rates of vaccination marked in red. The map shows low rates are almost concentrated in eastern and southeastern provinces, with Yozgat, Konya and Niğde among those with relatively lower rates compared to other provinces.

The country relaxed most pandemic-related restrictions last month, in the aftermath of a drop in the number of daily cases.
Professor Güner says the delta and delta plus variants raging across the world are a result of the virus “seeking to mutate itself for survival, to infect more. Thus, we need to sustain our personal responsibilities to prevent infections. Those that are getting vaccinated, must continue wearing protective masks and ensure social distancing with others,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) Monday.

“Without sustaining these (precautions), the pandemic will continue with these variants,” he warned. Güner highlighted that studies were still underway on the infection rate of delta plus, but current results of some studies point out that the speed of infection and hospitalizations appear to be higher than previous strains of the coronavirus.

So far, Turkey has reported three delta plus cases, while 284 delta cases were reported in 30 provinces. None of delta plus cases were fatal. “The more we administer vaccines, the more it will be possible to stop the development of variants, to stop the virus multiplying itself,” Güner stressed.