It has been a whole year in Turkey’s fight against COVID-19 following the detection of the first COVID-19 case in Turkey on 11 March 2020 and the Minister of Health Dr Fahrettin Koca shared the progress Turkey has achieved in this fight over this one-year period.
Minister Koca recalled the eve of the night of 11 March when he had announced the first case in Turkey and stated that “I expressed our citizens that it was inevitable to stop the importation of the virus in Turkey and being fully aware of this, we were already and fully prepared for the challenge and requested our citizens to remain calm. Over the last century COVID-19 has been the first pandemic that has made the entire world face with high numbers of cases and lives lost.
“Science prevails over the virus”
Reminding that the virus had first been seen in Wuhan city of China on 1 December 2019, Minster Koca underlined a little was known about the emerging virus in the first couple of weeks but now we discovered a lot including recent mutations and more. “As we expect, science has prevailed over the virus. The steps taken in vaccine development efforts have been a turning point in this global fight.
“Human trials of 5 national vaccine candidates shall start very soon.”
Dr Koca added that there are 7 COVID-19 vaccines available globally and Turkey acted rapidly and proactively to provide the vaccine to its citizens:
“We signed the agreement for the provision of 50 million vaccine doses in last November and received the first tranche of the delivery in late December. We now have agreements with 2 different vaccine manufacturers to ensure the delivery of a total of 130 million doses. Moreover, we continue our consultations with 3 more vaccine manufacturers. As of today, we have administrated more than 10 million doses to our people. I have been keeping you updated about the progress we make in national vaccine development. 5 of our national vaccine candidates will be starting human trials very soon and we will be able to use them.
Recent researches have shown us that the SinoVac Vaccine-which was agreed on by our scientists-is effective among 80 persons out of 100 and gives the efficacy we were looking for. Only a few contracted COVID-19 even they are vaccinated but all of them show mild symptoms and do not require hospital admission. It seems that coronavirus will not become a common disease like flu, but the dark clouds surrounded us in 2020 shall be gone in 2021”.
“We need to block the disease transmission routes with our masks”.
“With a collective commitment, the days of happiness of going back to normal shall displace current days of anxiety of catching the disease or losing our beloved ones. I cannot fully guarantee that we will not have our masks on and lose the physical distancing but we are taking progress to overcome this challenge. If we can vaccinate 50 million of our population before this fall as we planned, the outbreak will not be a big challenge for us. Until we finalize the vaccination efforts, the single weapon we have is taking measures. We need to block the disease transmission routes with our masks.”
Minister Koca reiterated that the Coronavirus Scientific Board was established on 22 January 2020 before the global pandemic announcement, and that the Board developed its first guideline on 24 January which was a commendable step.
As Minister Koca recalled, Turkey produced and started distribution of the national diagnosis kits on 4 February 2020 and the number of laboratories with COVID-19 test capacity reached to 461 from 47.
“It is a national and global responsibility”
Turkey is locally manufacturing ventilator devices not only for national hospitals but also to countries in need. “If we had not startred contact tracing implementation, the coronavirus toll could have been way worse and heavier on our health system. We wholeheartedly grieve for the ones who lost their lives in our country and around the world. We cannot thank enough to health professionals. You are saving lives and risk your lives to do this. Turkey will never forget your photos evidencing your hard-work. We are grateful for your spectacular efforts” added Minister Koca.
“Vaccination plan goes steadily”
While concluding his speech, Minister Koca urged citizens to stay away from despair, uncertainty and fatigue. “For a better future, let’s connect to brighter days a head of us. We have a strong reason for this: our vaccination programme, which was launched on 13 January 2021, continues in a steady and orderly manner. Upon the completion of the vaccination programme, the case numbers will be greatly reduced, for example, from 5 to 1. And we will rarely hear the term severe cases. Certainly, there is no need to mention how it those decreases will reflect on daily and social lives.”