Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he received three doses of the coronavirus vaccine, after which he was criticized because the country does not have enough vaccines for key employees.
This is reported by The Times.
Erdogan received the first dose of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine on January 14 and was one of the first in Turkey to be vaccinated. He received his second Sinovac shot on February 11 and this week reported that he received a third dose on March 10.
He did not say whether it was also Sinovac or Pfizer-BioNTech, which was also purchased by Turkey.
The 67-year-old Erdogan is the first world leader to admit to receiving three doses and said he did so to test whether his antibody levels would rise. Scientists have argued that “booster doses” or annual vaccinations against COVID-19 may be needed to boost immunity beyond the recommended two shots.
However, at the time he received the extra dose, people who have their first shot with Pfizer’s drug were told they would have to wait 12 weeks, not one month, for lack of vaccines in Turkey.
Engin Ozkoc, head of the main opposition party’s parliamentary group, said: “There is not even one dose for citizens, but three for Erdogan at once.”
To date, about 30 million injections have been given in Turkey, with 12 million people — 15.4% of the population — receiving two doses. Tourism workers have been given priority as part of Ankara’s efforts to launch an industry that accounts for more than 10% of its GDP.
However, other key workers, such as teachers, have had to wait longer for vaccinations. Anyone who has tested positive for the virus is also banned from getting vaccinated for six months.
Osman Kucukosmanoglu, head of the Istanbul Medical Chamber, said that the Ministry of Health has considered the possibility of introducing a third dose to medical workers, but a decision has not yet been made due to a lack of data on the effectiveness.
Studies have shown mixed results on the effectiveness of Sinovac, as well as Sinofarm, another Chinese vaccine, although the World Health Organization has approved the use of both. Many Turks have instead opted for Pfizer shots since the first batch was delivered to Turkey in March.
Last week, it was announced that another 120 million Pfizer doses were received, 30 million are due to be delivered by the end of June, and another 90 million by the end of September.