A family in the northeastern Turkish province of Rize called on authorities and scientists to conduct a genetic study after losing their ninth relative to the coronavirus in the past 15 months.
Şenay Genç Yalçınkaya, 36, was the latest member of the Genç family from the Güneysu district to fall to the coronavirus disease. Yalçınkaya tested positive in early February after showing symptoms of COVID-19 and was hospitalized on Feb. 4 at the Rize State Hospital.
Although she had received three vaccines earlier, she became extremely ill and was intubated.
Despite the efforts of doctors, she died on late Sunday. Funeral prayers will be held for the mother of one on Tuesday.
Yalçınkaya had earlier lost her father, brother, two aunts and four cousins to COVID-19 within a six-month span. Her father Muhammet Genç and brother Burak died only a week apart in November 2020.
The family then lost four members to the disease in December and two other relatives died in February and April. Fearing further deaths, the Genç family prepared 10 additional burial spots at the local cemetery.
Upon pledges to the family to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines, crews from the provincial directorate of health inoculated all 25 members of the Genç family in June. No members of the family contracted the virus in the following 10 months until Yalçınkaya's infection.
Losing three brothers, two sisters-in-law, a nephew, a brother-in-law and the son of a brother-in-law to COVID-19, Ali Genç said the family is undergoing a tough trial by the coronavirus.
"We've lost eight relatives to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, our daughter Şenay was also intubated. There are five of us remaining from the family, and we want our genes to be examined," 63-year-old Genç had told Demirören News Agency (DHA) before Yalçınkaya's passing.
"We had received our jabs and were happy that everything was over, but our happiness fell short. We don't know what to do. Were the vaccines ineffective for us? Do we have a problem with our genes? This is what we are saying from the beginning, our genes need to be researched," he said.
Rize was among the Turkish provinces where vaccination levels remained comparatively low until the province became one of the hotspots of the fourth wave of the pandemic in Turkey prompted by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
The province still ranks fourth out of 81 provinces in terms of the number of cases compared to the population, with 1,324.7 cases for every 100,000 residents. For comparison, this figure is only 717.58 in Istanbul, the country's most populated province.
Overall figures in Turkey show a steady decline in infections after hitting record numbers of cases due to the fast-spreading omicron variant, and hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) admittance rates remain low compared to earlier waves of the disease.
As of Sunday, the Turkish Ministry of Health reported 70,355 positive cases as a result of 440,183 tests. Fatalities from the disease stood at 263, whereas 91,164 people recovered.