Turkey receives 1.4 million doses of BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that Turkey had received the first batch of BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on March 23, apart from the ones that had previously arrived for "testing and clinical research" purposes. He said that the BioNTech vaccine had not been yet administered in Turkey and that the country currently holds 1.4 million doses of this vaccine.

A pharmacist prepares a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in this file photo.

Duvar English - Reuters 

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on March 24 that the country had received about 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Germany's BioNTech in the last two days, the first consignments to arrive apart from test samples.

BioNTech developed the vaccine together with Pfizer Inc.

The minister said on Twitter that 5,800 doses had arrived last week for testing purposes, followed by 750,000 on March 23 and 700,000 on March 24.

After the testing process, the first doses will be administered to citizens next week, Koca said. 

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Murat Emir had said on March 18 that the country had already received 1.5 million doses of BioNTech vaccine, basing his argument on a report by Bloomberg. 

"According to Bloomberg's report, it seems that 1.5 million doses of vaccine have been exported from the EU to Turkey. If this news is true, Pfizer's vaccine has already arrived [to Turkey] and is maybe being used in secret," Emir had said. 

Meanwhile, Turkey recorded nearly 30,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest level this year, Health Ministry data showed on March 24. Case numbers have continued to rise sharply after measures to curb the pandemic were eased this month.

Turkey has until now been using COVID-19 shots developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd and it has carried out 14.13 million inoculations, with 8.15 million people now having received a first dose, since Jan. 14 when the nationwide rollout began.