With the number of daily coronavirus infections exceeding 20,000 on Wednesday, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 87 percent of the active cases in the country comprise people who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Turkey on Wednesday reported 22,291 coronavirus cases and 76 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Koca said less than 5 percent of infections comprised fully vaccinated people. He also said 95 percent of people hospitalized for COVID had not been fully vaccinated.
The minister’s remarks came at a news conference on Wednesday following a meeting of the scientific board, which advises the government on the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey began its vaccination drive in January. As of July 28, the country had administered 40,185,504 first doses and 25,155,040 second doses of the coronavirus vaccine, while 4,418,827 people got a third shot as a booster.
Koca announced earlier this month that healthcare workers and people above the age of 50 who had been vaccinated with an inactive vaccine, namely the CoronaVac vaccine produced by the Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech, will be offered a third shot to boost their immunity against the coronavirus and its new variants. The minister said people can choose between the CoronaVac vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, which was produced using mRNA vaccine technology, for their third dose.
The country of 83 million reported more than 60,000 cases a day in April, prompting the government to impose a strict lockdown. But the restrictions were removed as of July 1, feeding fears that the new surge would continue during the summer.
In the meantime, head doctor of the Kartal Dr. Lütfi Kırdar City Hospital Professor Recep Demirhan said the goal of the medical community is to ensure the vaccination of at least 75 percent of the country’s population. He said nine out of 10 people put in intensive care units due to COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated, warning that Turkey might have to introduce restrictions again if most of the population is not vaccinated.