The daily number of COVID-19 cases is around 17,000 in Turkey but the number of daily fatalities has exceeded 250. The concerning figures come amid a rising number of the vaccinated, which reached 93.2 million doses. Experts link the high numbers despite vaccination to the "unvaccinated.” Indeed, most hospitals report that the majority of their current COVID-19 patients are people who did not have both their doses.
Professor Hasan Murat Gündüz, a member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board of the Health Ministry, highlights that the virus is now spreading among the unvaccinated. Also serving as chief physician at Balcalı Hospital in the southern province of Adana, Gündüz said COVID-19 patients at the hospital are mostly unvaccinated people. “We see the vaccines protect people against, at least, hospitalization with the virus,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) Sunday. He also warned that Turkey might face new variants if the virus continues spreading in the country.
Turkey lifted almost all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic in July following a COVID-19 lockdown but at the same time, expanded its vaccination program step by step. Most recently, it opened up vaccinations for people at the age of 15. A false sense of relief following the relaxation of restrictions is believed to be the culprit for a sudden surge in the cases, which recently climbed above 20,000 daily. This “relief” prompted people to ditch mandatory masks and social distancing rules, experts say. However, the real factor in driving up the cases is the lack of vaccination among nearly 18 million people, who now face infection with the delta variant that accounts for the majority of cases in the country.
Gündüz said people likely dropped their guard against the coronavirus, by ignoring masks and social distancing during the summer.
Associate professor Ümit Savaşçı, an infectious diseases expert, echoes the same figures indicating the number of unvaccinated patients being treated for the coronavirus. Savaşçı, who works at Gülhane Training and Research Hospital of Health Sciences University in the capital Ankara, told Demirören News Agency (DHA) that the number of patients below the age of 40 increased at their hospital. He added that they were seeing more and more people at the age of 65 and above being hospitalized and taken to intensive care, even if they had their two doses of inactive vaccine.
Turkey offers an inactive vaccine and a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine to the public. “We had less severe cases in the past but during the past 15 days, we struggled to find a spot at intensive care for patients. The primary reason for this situation is the unvaccinated. I remember a 21-year-old man who was the only person infected in a family where all other members were vaccinated, while he skipped his vaccine,” he said.
Savaşçı said almost all cases were of the delta variant. “They have a higher risk of infecting others and we see the protection of inactive vaccines against the variant being low,” he said.
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