Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed the date of the first coronavirus vaccination on Tuesday, saying health care workers will be the first to be inoculated after Dec. 11.
“We will be delivered at least 10 million doses of the vaccine in December, and this could go up to 20 million. Another 20 million doses will be supplied in January and 10 million in February. We want to increase these numbers,” Koca said while answering reporters' questions at Parliament in the capital Ankara.
Turkey has made an agreement with China to purchase 50 million vaccine doses, authorities announced earlier. The Chinese vaccine will be free for everyone, while vaccines from other companies and countries are being considered to be sold at pharmacies. Koca announced earlier that Turkey was in talks with Germany to purchase some 25 million doses.
Human trials for the vaccines developed by both China's Sinovac and U.S.-German Pfizer-BioNtech are underway in Turkey, where a locally developed vaccine also recently began human trials.
CoronaVac by Sinovac was the first foreign vaccine to launch Phase 3 trials in Turkey in September. Thousands of volunteers have received it since. Later in September, a vaccine developed by U.S.-based Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech also launched human trials in Turkey. The trials have gone smoothly so far, and it has been found to develop 98% of antibodies in volunteer recipients.
Koca said they have been in touch with companies that could receive earlier approval for their vaccines and expected that the Phase I trial of locally made vaccine would end by Dec. 15. “Our Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board is preparing a road map for vaccination, and it will be clear in a week which people would be prioritized first,” he said.