Allegations that the Turkish Health Ministry has used an intermediary firm in the purchase of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine have been confirmed by a photo posted by a journalist of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).
The photo shows the journalist taking a photo of himself with several boxes of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine being shipped from China. The boxes have the label of Turkish company Keymen İlaç.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir had in early December alleged that the Health Ministry would receive the COVID-19 vaccine shipment from China via the company Keymen İlaç. In response, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had said that Ankara had not used an intermediary firm and the Turkish State Supply Office (DMO) had struck a direct deal with Sinovac itself.
Once the photos showing Keymen İlaç's label on the vaccine boxes surfaced, Emir said that Koca had lied to the people.
“Since the issue revolves around such a strategic product, why is an intermediary firm being used? If you are using one, then why are you hiding it? Can't you foresee that this would at some point come out? For once, just run an open and transparent process, and let your remarks come out true,” Emir said.
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 28 that Turkey will receive the first shipment of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine before Dec. 31, after the shipment was postponed for a couple of days.
Turkey has agreed to purchase 50 million doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac and had expected the first delivery of 3 million doses on Dec. 28. It will also procure 4.5 million doses of the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, with an option to get 30 million more doses later.
Meanwhile, Turkey's death toll rose by 257 in the last 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed on Dec. 28, bringing total deaths to 20,135.
The number of new cases stood at 15,197 in the same period, bringing total cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 2,162,775.
Ankara has imposed full weekend lockdowns and weekday curfews to curb infections. Citizens will also be on lockdown from 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 5 a.m. on Jan. 4 as part of the measures.