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Erdogan says he raised vaccine shipment delays with China

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that China had not met their agreed target of delivering 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Turkey by the end of February, and that he had raised the delay with the Chinese foreign minister.

FILE PHOTO: A booth displaying a coronavirus vaccine candidate from Sinovac Biotech Ltd is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, China September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

Turkey signed a deal with China in November to buy 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech, to be delivered in batches.

Under the agreement, China was meant to deliver 50 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine to Turkey by the end of February, and the rest by the end of April.

However, shipments have been beset by delays and China is still 32 million doses short of meeting the February target.

Erdogan said he raised the matter with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during talks Ankara on Thursday.

“The first agreement we made with China was in fact for 100 million doses, with 50 million doses in the first stage. The 50 million doses have not been received by us as of now and this 50 million phase was supposed to arrive by the end of February,” Erdogan said.

Turkey has administered 14.6 million shots, with 8.2 million people having received a first dose, since Jan. 14 when the nationwide rollout began.

Erdogan said he had reminded Wang of their agreement.

“I reminded them of this again yesterday. I said ‘we rapidly expect thee 50 million doses from you because our agreement is in that direction’,” he said.

According to Erdogan, Wang said he would follow the matter more closely and discuss it with President Xi Jinping.

Since rolling out its national inoculation campaign on Jan. 14, Turkey has administered 14.6 million shots of the vaccine, with 8.2 million people having received a first dose.

After the talks with China on Thursday, Turkey said it has begun initial talks to procure Russia’s Sputnik-V shot.

Turkey recorded nearly 29,000 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, health ministry data showed, just under this year’s highest level a day earlier. Case numbers have continued to surge after restrictions were eased this month.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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