Turkey has enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the moment and will not have issues with procurement, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, adding he would discuss more supplies with Russian and Chinese leaders.
Speaking two days after his health minister warned that vaccines would be more scarce in the next two months, Erdogan said Turkey expected to receive a “serious” amount of vaccines from Moscow and Beijing.
Turkey has so far been using vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd and by Pfizer and BioNTech
It has carried out nearly 23 million inoculations, with 13.7 million people, or 16 percent of the population, having received at least one dose.
“I don’t accept that we will have any issues with vaccine procurement,” Erdogan said. “With the talks we are carrying out with Russia now, the Sputnik V vaccine is on its way,” he said, adding he would speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the procurement if necessary.
Turkish medical authorities said on Friday they had granted emergency use authorization to Sputnik V.
Erdogan said he would discuss vaccine supply in the first half of May with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and that more doses would also be delivered by BioNTech and Pfizer. “God willing, I believe it will be a magnificent situation.”
On Wednesday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey had signed a deal for 50 million doses of Sputnik V that will start arriving in May and should help address a short-term fall in supply. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said a Turkish firm would also produce the shot at its plants.
Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Friday that Koca and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu would visit Russia on May 12 to discuss the vaccines and tourism, after Moscow said it restricted flights to and from Turkey until June 1 due to a rise in COVID-19 infections.
Russia is Turkey’s biggest source of foreign visitors, with around 6 million Russians visiting Turkey annually before 2020. Turkey’s tourism revenues fell 40 percent and foreign visitor arrivals dropped 54 percent in the first quarter, data showed on Friday.