Turkey Is Already Giving Its Citizens the 4th Vaccine Dose
EU doesn't recognize Sinovac so would-be gastarbeiters can quadruple jab to travel
A fourth jab of vaccine? Would-be travelers in Turkey began receiving just that on Monday to become eligible for the vaccine passports necessary for them to journey to the U.S. and Europe.
Turkey began in January to inoculate millions with the Chinese Sinovac Biotech vaccine, with many receiving a full two doses. But a number of countries do not count that vaccine among those they require, and to those looking to travel abroad, Monday marked the first day they could get a second shot of the Pfizer offering in order to comply.
“Some countries accept only designated vaccine types at entry. To comply with relevant country regulations, for individuals who want to receive two doses of mRNA vaccines, we made a special arrangement. Other than travel purposes, there is no need for additional vaccination.” tweeted Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, paving the way for citizens to be able to enter Europe or the U.S.
“Whomever has been administered two doses of mRNA vaccines or three doses of inactivated vaccines does not need to receive an additional dose of vaccine medically,” the minister said.
While the minister avoided specifying brand names, he was referring to the vaccines now available in Turkey: the inactive vaccine CoronaVac by Sinovac Biotech and the mRNA offerings developed by the Pfizer/BioNTech team.
“As soon as I saw the news today, I received my fourth dose of vaccine this morning to secure a Pfizer passport so that I’m able to visit Europe or the U.S. for leisure or business, following my two doses of Sinovac and one dose of Pfizer,” 46-year-old hotelier Emre Deliveli said. [This is the most cyberpunk thing I’ve ever read. We now live in a world where passports are corporate, liquid, and injectable.]
Small amounts of the Pfizer vaccine began to be administered from April. Pfizer has since increased the supply of its vaccine since the start of summer with a total contract for 120 million doses.
To boost immunization, Turkey from the beginning of July embarked on administering third-shot boosters of the Sinovac and Pfizer vaccines to health care workers and the elderly.
In all, Turkey so far has administered 84 million doses, making 40% of the population double-dose vaccinated and bringing the total of people who have received a third booster to 6.6 million.
Koca on Wednesday announced that a study of more than 30 million vaccinated citizens indicated that the highest level of protection was seen in people who received three doses of inactive vaccines, rather than in those who received two doses of inactive vaccines and one booster shot of an mRNA vaccine. The world could learn from this data, he said, and countries’ vaccination policies could change.
Koca said the researchers who carried out the study had applied to a scientific journal to publish the full results.
However, the Turkish medical community had been suggesting using the Pfizer jab as a booster on top of two doses of Sinovac vaccine, with many people acting on that initial advice. Doctors are continuing their encouragement, waiting until results of the three-dose Sinovac study are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“We are recommending that mRNA vaccines be administered as a third dose, which appears more effective in preventing deaths,” the Turkish Clinical Microbiology and Infection Diseases Association said in a statement. But this will only be performed under certain conditions, “bearing in mind the World Health Organization’s call for a moratorium on booster shots in favor of administering to the unvaccinated millions,” it added.
Regarding fourth doses, the association said “it is not possible to recommend them” without hard data at hand.