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200,000 doses of ‘missing’ COVID-19 vaccine allegedly received by people close to AKP

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Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Murat Emir has claimed that nearly 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine received from China are “missing” and were secretly administered to people close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish media reported on Thursday.

After procuring 3 million doses from China at the end of 2020, Turkey started a vaccination program on Jan. 14 and has inoculated 2,811,000 people against the coronavirus since then. On Thursday the country started administering 6.5 million additional doses of China’s COVID-19 vaccine that were received in late January.

Referring to the remaining nearly 200,000 doses of the first batch of the Chinese vaccine, the CHP’s Emir on Thursday asked, “Where are the nearly 200,000 doses of the 3 million vaccines that initially arrived in the country?”

“We can see that those 200,000 doses are missing. We previously claimed that the vaccines came to Turkey earlier than was officially announced and were received by [powerful people close to ruling AKP]. The Health Ministry hasn’t commented on our claim,” Emir added.

According to a roadmap previously drafted by the ministry, health care workers would be the first to be inoculated, followed by senior citizens, specifically those with at least one chronic disease.

The opposition lawmaker further noted that they were expecting a statement from the ministry regarding official data that “seem to prove” their claim.

Emir also commented on the remarks of Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who spoke to reporters after a meeting with the Scientific Advisory Board on Wednesday and said they had decided not to announce details of the arrival of vaccines in the country from now on since it was “undesirable” for other countries and companies.

“The health minister who has failed to manage the pandemic transparently said in a statement yesterday that the process will be handled even more non-transparently now,” the CHP MP said.

The AKP government has been criticized for failing to competently manage the pandemic and allowing it to get out of control by not reporting the real number of infected people until late November and lagging behind other countries in beginning COVID-19 inoculations.

Meanwhile, Prof. Dr. İbrahim Akkurt, an expert on occupational disease, on Thursday told the Birgün daily that Turkey should speed up vaccinations as the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has been on the rise.

According to data released by the Health Ministry, the daily number of coronavirus cases detected in the country was 8,636 on Feb. 9, the highest figure reported in the last 25 days despite ongoing measures against the virus.

“One of the reasons for the increase in the number of daily cases is the fact that we still cannot prevent a large number of people from gathering indoors. We all can see how the weekend lockdowns are being imposed only for show,” Akkurt said.

Turkey has imposed curfews on weeknights and weekends to curb the spread of the virus since December.

He added that another reason for the surge in coronavirus cases might be the new and potentially more contagious variants. “No [official] details about the variants have been shared with the public,” Akkurt further stated.

“We see that the daily number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Turkey has dropped to as low as 10,000, while government officials previously said they would inoculate as many as 2 million people a day.

“This is a serious concern. We have been able to vaccinate only 2 or 3 percent of the population. As many as 130 or 140 million doses must be procured [by the government] in order to inoculate the majority of the public,” Akkurt warned.

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