Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, delivered a statement following the Coronavirus Scientific Committee meeting.
In his speech, Koca noted that the Scientific Committee had discussed three important topics: the pandemic's overall impact, side effects of the vaccines administered, and the phase 3 trials of TURKOVAC, and said, "We said before that we would overcome the pandemic with vaccines. The current course shows that we are moving towards this goal. We are confident of victory and close but also cautious and vigilant."
Koca stressed that thanks to Turkey's robust healthcare infrastructure, the images seen all over the world, in which patients are intubated in hallways, waiting in line with oxygen masks on, were not seen in Turkey.
“I believe that the pandemic will end soon”
Minister Koca said that healthcare workers had been the biggest source of pride, and the pandemic was being fought in a very determined way.
Koca also noted that the pandemic was under control thanks to vaccination efforts, and continued, "We are at a good point right now and I believe that the pandemic will end soon. In short, we took measures way before we came face to face with the pandemic to protect our people from it. And now, we are on the verge of ending it completely thanks to vaccines."
"We have suffered much more due to healthcare services put off during the pandemic"
Minister Koca shared some information about the outcomes of the pandemic, where the fight against the pandemic goes on at full speed, and said,"During the pandemic, we have lost around 50 thousand lives. We have suffered much more than that due to healthcare services put off during the pandemic. For example, although heart attack diagnoses decreased by 56% during the pandemic, heart attack-related deaths increased by more than 10%. The main reason for this is that access to healthcare services other than those for the pandemic has slowed down, or people have avoided going to hospitals. While there has been a decrease in the diagnosis of many similar diseases, we have experienced an increase in losses associated with these diseases.
Even though we say that we have lost 50 thousand people to COVID-19 according to the criteria set by the World Health Organization, we, unfortunately, lost this many more people to indirect reasons. Around the world, the situation was no different. At least 3.9 million people have died globally today due to COVID-19, but more than 10 million deaths occurred due to indirect reasons, such as unconfirmed cases and restricted access to healthcare, which are considered to be COVID-19's devastating impact.”
"The next 3 years will be spent compensating for this damage.”
Koca said, "The sad thing is that we do not know what recovered people should expect in the future. Although it is not determined what comorbidities will develop in people who have had the disease over the next three years, it is noted that up to 3-4 times more losses are expected than the current death toll. This is a very sad and grave picture."
Pointing out that Turkey is running one of the fastest vaccination programs in the world, Koca said: “When I said that as long as we have vaccines, we could administer 1.5 million doses a day, some people did not believe me. So, be it. Trust in the strength of our state and our strong healthcare infrastructure, and our heroic healthcare workers."
As of Friday, everyone over the age of 18 will be able to make a vaccination appointment
”We want to vaccinate our people, especially those who are 18 years of age and older“ Koca said and continued: "The sooner we do this, the sooner we can achieve social immunity, and we should be able to take early precautions against potential mutations that can enter our country. As of Friday, everyone over the age of 18 will be able to make a vaccination appointment."
TURKOVAC phase 3 trials will be carried out on 40,800 people
Referring to the phase 3 trials of the domestic vaccine TURKOVAC, Koca said: "The phase 3 trials will be carried out with 40 thousand 800 people. Instead of placebo, we will use it in conjunction with Sinovac, which is comparable. Necessary permits have been obtained and we have also received the approval of the ethics committee. The phase 3 trials will also be conducted in Hungary, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan. We are trying to add a few additional countries to this list. Talks about this are also ongoing. 29 centers will be conducting the trials with 40 thousand 800 people."
At the meeting, Prof Ateş Kara and Prof Serhat Ünal offered information about the vaccination efforts being conducted in Turkey.