Second batch of CoronaVac vaccine arrives in Turkey from China

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The second batch of a coronavirus vaccine ordered from Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac arrived in Turkey on Monday.

A Turkish Airlines plane carrying 6.5 million doses of CoronaVac landed at İstanbul Airport in the early hours of Monday.

Turkey received the first shipment of 3 million doses on Dec. 30 after a two-week delay.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had earlier announced that the second shipment would include 10 million doses of the vaccine. It is not known why only 6.5 million doses were sent to Turkey.

On Jan 14 Turkey began vaccinating its healthcare workers with CoronaVAC after the country’s health regulator, the Turkish Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, issued an emergency use authorization for the vaccine.

In the meantime, a vaccination map developed by the Health Ministry has gone online. The map shows the number of the daily vaccinations in every province.

As of Monday the vaccination of people over the age of 80 began, according to a statement from Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. The vaccinations, which began with healthcare workers, are made in line with a priority list determined by the ministry.

Critics accuse Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of poorly managing the pandemic and lagging behind other countries in beginning vaccinations.

Despite widespread concerns about the safety of CoronaVAC, Turkey has ordered 50 million doses of the vaccine from the Chinese company. The vaccine has an efficacy rate of 91.25 percent based on early results of late-stage trials conducted in Turkey, according to a statement from Minister Koca in December.

However, officials in Brazil, where phase three trials of CoronaVAC were also conducted, announced on Jan. 12 that the vaccine was 50.38 percent effective in preventing coronavirus, a number that meets the threshold required by global regulators for approval but much lower than those of rival inoculations from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZenica.

A third trial in Indonesia showed an efficacy of 65.3 percent for CoronaVAC.

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