Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, delivered a statement following the Coronavirus Scientific Committee meeting. Uğur Şahin, the co-founder of BioNTech, also attended the meeting via video conference.
Before giving the floor to Uğur Şahin, Minister Koca said, "Today, we want you to hear some of the views of Mr Şahin directly from him. Mr. Şahin, we did our first contract on December 27, which was preceded by talks for 3 months. You have made great effort. First, the contract for 4.5 million doses, and then, finally, the contract for 120 million doses were signed thanks to your tremendous efforts."
Minister Koca then gave the floor to Uğur Şahin to talk about the supply stage of the agreement.
Noting that he was very glad to had signed the agreement to supply Turkey with 120 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine, Mr. Şahin continued, "We want to bring 30 million doses to Turkey by the end of June. And we will have brought 120 million doses in total in July, August, and September."
Minister Koca thanked Şahin and said, "Right now, we have received 6.1 million doses out of 120 million. We will receive a total of 120 million doses in 4 months, by the end of September."
“We will be learning more in the coming weeks"
Minister Koca asked Uğur Şahin about the effectiveness of the BioNTech vaccine on mutations, the amount of doses to be administered to those who have had the disease and when the third dose should be administered. Şahin said that they studied the vaccine on more than 30 variants, and continued, "This week, we have experimented on the Indian mutation. The vaccine is 25 to 30% effective on the Indian variant. This corresponds to about 70 to 75% protection from infection. We will be learning more in the coming weeks."
"The vaccination rate has reached 84% over the age of 65"
"We are now vaccinating those over the age of 55. We are also vaccinating high-risk groups", said Koca and continued, "As we receive vaccines, especially the 30 million doses in June, we want to vaccinate as young as 20 year-olds. The vaccination rate has reached 84% over the age of 65, but we want this to go beyond 90%."
"We want to normalize through widespread vaccination"
When asked about gradual normalization, Koca said, "As of today, the number of new daily cases is below 10 thousand. We have achieved this thanks to the full lockdown. The daily case numbers dropped from 63 thousand to 9 thousand. Therefore, we must maintain this momentum. Everyone knows now how the virus is transmitted. From now on, we want to go back to normal by intensifying personal protective measures and widespread vaccination efforts. We will be hearing the recommendations of the Scientific Committee next week."