ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey became the latest country to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program, starting with health care workers in hospitals across the country.
Thursday’s start of the nationwide inoculation program came a day after Turkish authorities gave the go-ahead for the emergency use of the vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Turkey’s health minister and members of the country’s scientific advisory council received the first shots live on television shortly after the regulator's approval.
People over the age of 65 will be the next in line to be administered the vaccine in two doses.
Turkey received a first shipment of the Sinovac vaccine, consisting of 3 million doses, last month. The country is scheduled to get a total of 50 million doses of the vaccine – although there is uncertainty over just how protective it is.
Researchers in Brazil last week had pegged the vaccine as 78% effective at protecting against symptomatic illness — but this week they announced data showing overall, effectiveness is just over 50%.
Researchers in Turkey and Indonesia had announced higher effectiveness rates but those studies were far too small to be conclusive. Global health authorities have said any vaccine that is at least 50% effective would be useful.