It has been a year since the coronavirus pandemic started dominating headlines and our lives. It has been a period of unprecedented stress and grief for many people in Turkey and around the world. We have all been waiting to have a sigh of relief. At first, our families, friends, and communities have received their vaccines but is the vaccine sufficient in the fight against covid-19? It is the most powerful weapon against covid-19, but it is not enough on its own.
Vaccines save millions of lives each year and they work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences – the immune system – to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After the vaccination, if the body is exposed to these disease-causing germs, it is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing the body from illness.
There are several safe and effective vaccines that prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. This is one of the ways of managing COVID-19, in addition to the main preventive measures of staying at least 1 meter away from others, covering a cough or sneeze in your elbow, frequently cleaning your hands, wearing a mask and avoiding poorly ventilated rooms or opening a window.
Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, and Sinovac are being administered in our country. The two vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO). These two vaccines have similar results in terms of protection and side effects. Pfizer-BioNTech is 95% efficacy in blocking COVID-19 in those without prior infection. Sinovac is 91.25% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 cases. Although each COVID-19 vaccine is unique, all of them may help with herd immunity.
Who should get vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people aged 18 and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled. However, do not forget to discuss your situation with your care provider.
Turkey has administered over 46.84 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in mid-January. More than 32 million people have received their first doses, while over 14.8 million have been fully vaccinated. The health ministry manages a successful vaccination program together with health workers.
Turkovac, a Turkish-made inactive coronavirus vaccine, began phase three trials in June. The Turkovac is being developed in cooperation with Erciyes University and the Health Institutes of Turkey (TUSEB).
The vaccine will be tried on more than 40,000 volunteers, and experts say that the whole process can be concluded by November. People falling between the age group of 18 and 55, who never had COVID-19, had not been vaccinated and had never tested positive for PCR were selected as volunteers for the phase three trials. And those with chronic diseases affecting the immune system were excluded from the trials. During the evaluation process, volunteers responded to a questionnaire, which asked whether they used public transport, whether they were working, or if they worked in a public environment close to other people.
It is expected to be the first locally-made vaccine to be available in the country if it receives approval from the Health Ministry after safety tests. If the approval process takes less time, the vaccine will be fully available for the Turkish public by the start of next year.
We mustn’t forget that approved COVID-19 vaccines provide a high degree of protection against getting seriously ill and dying from the disease, although no vaccine is 100% protective.
I wish our scientists every success with their trials and wish everybody the best of luck. Let’s hope and pray this coronavirus pandemic ends soon. Stay healthy and take care of yourself!