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Minister: Turkey to buy 10 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from China in December

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As the number of coronavirus infections soars in Turkey and around the world, Turkey is considering a purchase in December of at least 10 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by a Chinese company, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Wednesday.

Speaking at a meeting in the Turkish Parliament, Koca said his ministry was in talks with the German-based BioNTech, which developed a coronavirus vaccine in partnership with US pharma giant Pfizer, and with Sinovac Biotech in China.

According to preliminary trial results announced by the company on Wednesday, Sinovac Biotech’s experimental coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac triggered a quick immune response, but the level of antibodies produced was lower than in people who had recovered from the disease.

However, a final analysis of the phase 3 trial of the coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer shows it was 95 percent effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns, according to a statement from Pfizer on Wednesday.

US drug company Moderna announced earlier this week that a coronavirus vaccine it developed provides 95 percent protection against COVID-19.

Koca said Turkey would buy another 10 million doses of the Chinese vaccine in January, in remarks that raised concerns among the public and healthcare professionals who have doubts about the reliability of the vaccine developed by the Chinese company.

Professor Güner Sönmez, a radiology expert, questioned the ministry’s decision to buy a coronavirus vaccine from China instead of other companies whose vaccines have proven more successful.

“Why are we not buying vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna but instead from China? Is it [the Chinese vaccine] more effective? No. According to research results announced yesterday [Wednesday] the amount of antibodies produced by this vaccine is less than the amount of antibodies in the bodies of people who recovered from COVID-19. Is it safer? No. The two other vaccines have no significant side effects,” Sönmez tweeted.

Koca also said the ministry is planning to buy 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from BioNTech following the approval of the company’s vaccine by the US Food and Drug Administration but said its approval would take some time.

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