Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on April 28 that there will be a scarce supply of COVID-19 vaccines over the next two months, but that the shortfall should in time be overcome with the new procurements and ultimately by production in Turkey.
“The procurement of vaccines will be difficult for the upcoming two months but afterwards, an abundance of vaccines is expected,” Koca said in a televised speech.
He also announced that Turkey has signed a deal for 50 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine which will start arriving next month and should help address a short-term fall in supply.
"We are at the last stage for Sputnik V vaccine emergency use authorization and an agreement has been made for the vaccine's procurement. Turkey signed a deal to receive 50 million doses within six months,” he said.
Turkey has until now been using COVID-19 vaccines developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd and by Pfizer and BioNTech. It has carried out 22 million inoculations, with 13.55 million people having received a first dose.
On April 27, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said a Turkish pharmaceutical firm would also produce Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine at its plants.
Turkey has also decided to administer the two doses of BioNTech vaccine at six- to eight-week intervals versus the previous gap of 28 days, Koca said.
Five people have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 variant first identified in India, the minister said, adding that the cases were isolated and being monitored.
Meanwhile, Turkey on April 28 reported 40,444 new coronavirus cases, according to the Health Ministry data.
The country's overall COVID-19 tally is now over 4.75 million, while the nationwide death toll rose by 341 over the past day to reach 39,398.