Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under fire after he revealed on that he has received three COVID-19 vaccine doses despite his country struggling to procure enough of the precious commodity for key workers.
The Turkish president, during a live interview on Tuesday on state broadcaster TRT, sadmitted that he had received three doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
“I checked to see if there was an increase in my antibody levels. I reached 2,160 (units per milliliter), thank God,” he said.
Erdogan, 67, received his first dose of China’s Sinovac vaccine in January and a second shot in February.
This week he admitted that he had had a third dose in March, but did not say whether it was the Sinovac or Pfizer-BioNtech jab, which Turkey has also purchased.
At the time that he was receiving his third shot, ordinary Turks were being made to wait as long as 12 weeks — rather than the recommended four — to receive their second shot due to a shortage of vaccines in the country, Reuters reports.
“Not a dose for citizens, but three for Erdogan”
It is estimated that 50 million people in Turkey are waiting to receive their first shot.
Engin Ozkoc, head of the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party’s parliamentary group, said: “There is not even one dose for citizens but three for Erdogan.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker OzgUr Ozel asked where Erdogan had found the right to receive extra doses of the shot, when even the country’s healthcare workers were unable to do so.
“You must provide an explanation if you received your shot at the end of 2020, when the vaccine was not available to anybody in the country,” the Diken news site cited Ozel as saying.
“It appears as though all AKP members have been vaccinated. And here we are wondering why there are no vaccines left,’’ one Turkish Twitter user said. “Us teachers are yet to receive our first doses,’’ another user complained.
Turkey counts almost 50,000 Covid deaths
Nearly 50,000 people have died — according to official sources — from COVID-19 in Turkey, which has been struggling to roll out vaccine doses quickly. According to Reuters, less than 20 percent of Turks have received two doses.
The country on Wednesday registered 7,181 new cases over the last 24 hours and 112 deaths linked to the deadly virus, according Health Ministry data.
Reuters said the rate of vaccination in Turkey, which has a population of over 80 million, means it will take another 102 days to administer enough doses to protect another 10 percent. Turkey is routinely recording over 6,000 news cases of COVID-19 every day.
Turkey further eased measures meant to curb coronavirus infections earlier in the week including partially lifting a weekend lockdown and opening restaurants to a limited number of guests.
Erdogan said the lighter measures, in response to falling cases, would go into effect Tuesday. Under the new rules, nationwide daily curfews are delayed by an hour to 10 p.m.
Erdogan lifted virtually all social restrictions in March but backtracked in April when the number of daily cases soared above 60,000, making Turkey briefly second globally in the number of cases. A partial lockdown was imposed from the end of April to May 17.