ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has vaccinated more than 600,000 people in the first two days of administering COVID-19 shots developed by China’s Sinovac, health ministry data showed on Friday, among the speediest rollouts globally.
Ankara launched the nationwide programme on Thursday, vaccinating health workers first, and inoculated more than 285,000 people on the first day. As of 1601 GMT, the total was 600,040.
The government has credited its nationwide distribution of the vaccines earlier this week, as well as its digitised health records and hospital services for the rapid operation.
“We are an experienced country in implementing nationwide inoculation programmes. Our infrastructure is more than capable of conducting this programme in a controlled way. We will win the battle with the pandemic together,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.
Some 3.23 million people have been inoculated in Britain and, according to the Our World in Data website, 2.16 million in Israel. In Russia, the RDIF sovereign wealth fund said on Wednesday 1.5 million Russians had been inoculated with the Sputnik V vaccine.
Indonesia, which is also using the Sinovac shot, has inoculated 15,301 people over the past two days, a senior health ministry official there said. The official rollout began Wednesday, but medical workers and selected public workers were injected on Thursday and Friday.
Worldwide trials of the shot made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd, called CoronaVac, have shown wide-ranging efficacy rates, leading to some criticism. [nL4N2JQ2Z3]
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to ignore the criticism. He received his first dose of the vaccine on Thursday and urged other politicians to endorse the programme.
Turkey has reported more than 2.3 million COVID-19 infections and 23,000 deaths since March. After a month of weekend lockdowns and nightly curfews, the daily death toll has dipped to 169.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Dominic Evans; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)