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Turkey plans to vaccinate 13M people against COVID-19

Turkey plans to vaccinate 13M people against COVID-19

As virus variants spark concerns over a potential new surge in COVID-19 cases, authorities seek to speed up the vaccination process which started last month. By the end of March, the inoculation drive is expected to reach 13 million people, a number that seems attainable, given that Turkey has already delivered shots to more than 2.8 million people so far.

The vaccine, although not effective in the short run, may at least curb the number of new cases, if combined with ongoing measures, according to experts. Measures remain vital as ever, as the country is now embattled with new variants from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa. A total of 199 cases stemming from variants have been reported so far, in 17 provinces. The mutated virus is suspected of being a factor in the slight rise of daily cases recently, though it is still unclear. Authorities, in the meantime, plan to implement regional restrictions, based on the course of the outbreak while an all-out, nationwide lockdown is out of the question for now, according to media outlets.

Experts say the impact of variants, that worsened the pandemic in Europe, will only be visible next month, due to the incubation period of the virus that takes weeks. In Europe, for instance, the surge in new cases was reported within four to six weeks after the report of the first variant case. Turkey managed to decrease the number of daily cases from around 30,000 to around 5,000 in the past few months. Fatalities, in particular, now fluctuate around 100 per day. Yet, an occasional uptick in daily cases drove authorities to mull new measures and analyze whether the variants have a role, including an extra test for positive patients. However, the main reason for fluctuations in daily cases is increased mobility during the semester break for schools according to authorities. The break, which started last month, saw families with children heading to vacation resort towns or visiting relatives elsewhere.

March is critical for Turkey as warming weather will likely lead to more people going out. This may be helpful for the country as infections tend to be less common outdoors, than in enclosed environments with little ventilation which people prefer during winter.