By MEHMET KAYA
The base scenario for Turkey to loosen the COVID-19 measures to a large extent has been determined. Speaking exclusively to daily DUNYA, the scientific board members emphasized that reaching 21 million people in double-dose vaccination is the critical threshold in loosening the measures. The country is expected to enter the autumn with a lower risk with the reduced number of crowds gathering indoors during the summer months and by ongoing vaccination in this process. In the meantime, Germany and Switzerland removed Turkey from ‘high-risk’ country lists.
According to the information given by scientific board members, the measures can be relaxed step by step in the summer months, with the completion of the double dose vaccination of 21 million people, which corresponds to approximately 30% of the adult population. Reaching this figure in the vaccinated population, combined with the mathematical decrease in the rate of transmission in the summer months, will reduce the risk of COVID-19 burdening the health system, they said.
According to the baseline scenario, it is assumed that the rate of severe infections will decrease with each passing period, with the continuation of the vaccination program throughout the summer months. The scenario is developed depending on the regular arrival of the promised amount of vaccines in Turkey. In this case, it is stated that if the vaccination rate continues at the current pace, at worst, approximately 42.5-43 million people, who make up 60 % of the adult population, will have received two doses by the end of summer. Turkey will make a strong entrance to autumn, according to this outlook.
Full closures not on the horizon
Authorities also emphasized that the 60% vaccination rate as of September was developed considering the worst-case scenarios. If the planned scenario progresses positively, full vaccination is expected to exceed this rate. The supply of vaccines is shown as the source of the bad possibility. Turkey announced that it has signed an agreement for 100 million doses of vaccine, including 10 million doses of Sinovac and 90 million doses of BioNTech, to be delivered gradually until autumn.
According to the projection for the end of 2021, single-dose reminder vaccinations, which should be done in the beginning of 2022, will start from the autumn months. It is assumed that restrictive measures to combat the pandemic may resume in the winter months, but this will not require full closure as in previous periods.
13 million people vaccinated
The number of people who received the second dose of vaccine exceeded 13 million as of June 5, according to Ministry of Health data. It is known that the BioNTech vaccine provides 65% protection in the first dose. The number of people whose first dose of vaccine has been completed is 17.5 million, according to the ministry.
Germany lowers Turkey’s risk level
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which carries out infectious disease studies in Germany, has updated the list of risky regions it has prepared with health, foreign affairs and interior ministries of the country. Accordingly, Turkey, which has been on the “High Incidence Region” list since mid-April, was removed from this group and included among the “risky” countries, effective from June 6. Those who carry a valid test showing that they are negative for coronavirus on their way from Turkey will not have to go into isolation as of June 6.
Switzerland removes Turkey from the high-risk list
Another good news about Turkey’s travel restrictions in European countries came from Switzerland. Switzerland removed Turkey from the list of “risky countries” for which it has imposed travel restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic. Following the update made by the Swiss Federal Health Office (BAG), the quarantine requirement for those traveling from Turkey to Switzerland was also lifted. On the other hand, there is an obligation to take a test for those who do not have the COVID-19 vaccine on their way to and from Turkey. With the latest decision of BAG, passengers from Turkey who have negative COVID-19 tests will no longer be quarantined.