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Coronavirus

Turkey to start mass vaccines with China-developed Sinovac shot

Health minister receives COIVD-19 jab himself on television

A health worker injects an experimental Chinese-made coronavirus disease to a volunteer in Kocaeli, Turkey.   © Reuters

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -- Turkey will begin countrywide COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday beginning with health workers, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday shortly after Sinovac's vaccine was granted emergency authorisation.

Shortly after addressing reporters, Koca received a shot on live television, followed by members of Turkey's advisory science council.

Turkey has received 3 million doses of Sinovac's Coronavac and has ordered a total of 50 million. It is also in talks for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, and the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

While Indonesia began administering the Chinese vaccine on Wednesday, various trials from around the world have shown wide ranging results including researchers in Brazil releasing late-stage clinical data showing an efficacy rate of only 50.4%.

Last month, Turkish researchers said CoronaVac showed a 91.25% efficacy based on an interim analysis of 29 cases. A fuller analysis can take place when they reach 40 cases.

Turkey's trials will continue even as it moves ahead with mass inoculation, the trials coordinator told Reuters on Wednesday.

Ankara plans first doses for health workers and those older than 65, followed by those older than 50 and suffering at least one chronic illness, in addition to those in specific sectors or high-risk environments.

The third group will include young adults and sectors not included in prior groups. A fourth group covers all the rest not listed. 

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