Experts are calling on the public to ensure that they receive their two doses of vaccine against coronavirus in time, describing the inoculation as key for success in defeating the spread of the delta variant, a more infectious strain of the disease.
“We see a growth in delta cases although it is slow. We have to achieve adequate immunity by vaccination, before the autumn sets in,” Professor Nurettin Yiyit, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says.
Every autumn, more people turn indoors as temperatures drop and this heightens the risk of the disease, especially in places not properly ventilated. After a lull last summer, Turkey saw a rise in the daily cases in autumn 2020, forcing authorities to impose restrictions. The number of delta cases is still low in Turkey according to the latest figures. The country also faces a threat from delta plus cases. Health Ministry has announced first delta plus cases earlier this month. The daily cases have also started increasing again since last week, exceeding 7,000.
“Without vaccination, we will have to go back to those old days of restrictions where people cannot go to work or school,” Yiyit warned, in an interview with Demirören News Agency (DHA).
Yiyit, who also serves as chief physician of a major pandemic hospital in Istanbul, says Turkey faces a new danger in the pandemic. “Alpha variant used to dominate cases and one dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and two doses of CoronaVac were sufficient to stave off alpha infections. But the delta variant changed the situation. We are at a point where people should have their two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and a third dose of CoronaVac,” he says, referring to the two vaccines available in the country. “The delta variant will likely dominate cases here in the autumn because it already climbed up in countries in the region, from Russia to Iran,” he warned.
In Dr. Feriha Öz hospital where he serves, Yiyit says 10% of patients hospitalized with coronavirus are suffering from the delta variant. “Most of them are people who are not vaccinated or did not have their two doses or those who had two doses but at a more recent date,” he said. Yiyit said Turkey “updated” its vaccination calendar, by shortening the gap between two doses, as a precaution against the delta variant.
Professor Alper Şener, another member of the Board, says having the delta variant in Turkey was “an expected process” but lamented the fact that it coincided with the time of normalization. Şener told Anadolu Agency (AA) that people should be more cautious, especially during Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha) where most people visit each other at home.
“The delta variant gives an extra burden of infections and we have to prevent it. Social distancing is a way to prevent infections. So, if you have to visit someone at home, keep it short,” he warned, noting that the variant posed a risk even in countries with higher rates of vaccination.
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