Turkey’s Health Ministry has refused to answer questions posed by the left-wing Birgün daily as to how the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, managed to get three doses of the coronavirus vaccine when the country is not even administering any third doses, the Birgün daily reported.
Erdoğan drew the ire of opposition politicians and social media users in early June after stating during a televised interview that he had received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
“I received three doses of the vaccine, and then I checked to see if there was an increase in my antibody levels. Thank God, I reached 2,160 [units per milliliter],” Erdoğan said during a live interview on state broadcaster TRT Haber.
Erdoğan’s statement triggered angry responses from opposition politicians and social media users who argued that it wasn’t fair for Erdoğan to receive three shots while only 12 million people in Turkey back then had been able to receive a second dose. Today, this figure stands at 15 million.
Birgün posed several questions to the ministry through the Presidential Communications Center (CİMER), asking, “Did Erdoğan get the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with the knowledge of the Health Ministry? If so, as part of which criteria was this vaccine administered? Is there any person or persons in Turkey who have gotten a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine? Under which criteria were these people administered the third dose of the vaccine? It is known that the first and the second doses of the vaccine Erdoğan received was Sinovac. Which brand did he receive for the third dose?”
In its response to the daily, the ministry refused to give exact answers to its questions but made a general statement, saying that the ministry began vaccinations with the healthcare staff and priority groups determined by the ministry, adding that there is a list of priority groups on the ministry website.
Turkey, which launched its vaccination drive in mid-January, has administered the first dose to 34.5 million people and the full two doses to 15 million as of June 30. In the first months Turkey mainly used the CoronaVAC vaccine, developed by the Chinese biotechnology company Sinovac despite concerns about its effectiveness and safety. The country has been vaccinating its people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for more than a month after Pfizer-BioNTech on May 20 announced a deal to deliver an additional 60 million doses of its vaccine to Turkey.