'Turkey lacks infrastructure to stock BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine'

As the COVID-19 pandemic soars in Turkey, the country still lacks the infrastructure to stock the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, the Turkish Pharmacists' Union (TEB) said. Meanwhile, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that some 25.5 million people in Turkey would receive the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine by the end of March.

Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

As the COVID-19 pandemic soars and all hopes are placed on vaccine studies, Turkey still lacks the infrastructure that would be required to stock the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, Turkish Pharmacists' Union (TEB) Chairman Erdoğan Çolak noted. 

The vaccine needs to be stocked at -70 Celsius degrees, the chairman said, adding that the required type of cooler would need to be available widely to allow the public access to the vaccine. 

TEB Chairman Erdoğan Çolak

“The vaccine requires large capacities of coolers and unique transportation, both of which are high-cost. It's impossible for Turkish pharmacists to cover those costs."

Some 60 percent of the public needs to be vaccinated for an efficient fight against the pandemic, Çolak said, adding that it is the state's responsibility to provide the shots free of charge to ensure widespread immunity. 

"Millions of people work for minimum wages in this country, and live on the hunger line. In light of this, the state is mandated to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the public free of charge."

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca assured the public that some 25,500,000 persons would receive both of the two required doses of Chinese-made Sinovac's vaccine free of charge before the end of March. 

While Minister Koca is supposed to receive the first administration of the vaccine on Dec. 11, TEB Chairman Çolak said that pharmacists hadn't been informed at all about the distribution or administration of the vaccine yet. 

"Everyday, customers ask us how they'll acquire the COVID-19 vaccine when they can't even get their hands on flu shots. Citizens should be reassured that vaccine supplies will cover all of Turkey's population and that it will be offered free of charge."

As Turkey's Health Ministry continues negotiations with vaccine manufacturers other than Sinovac, their sale prices in Turkey will be determined based on 60 percent of the annual average of the Turkish Lira-Euro exchange rate, Çolak said.