Turkey steps up COVID-19 vaccinations, offering hope for economy

Senay Salman receives a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Dr. Feriha Oz Emergency Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, April 9, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

ISTANBUL, June 18 (Reuters) - Turkey has sharply accelerated COVID-19 vaccinations this week, delivering more than 1 million a day since Monday, raising hopes of a strong economic performance in the second half of the year.

The vaccination programme has been constrained since its launch in January by sporadic vaccine procurement, but fresh supplies arrived this month. On Friday inoculations passed the 40 million mark and 40% of adults had had at least one dose, according to a Reuters tally.

Since Monday more than 6 million had been vaccinated, Health Ministry data showed, 5 million of them receiving a first dose.

The stepped-up pace has helped raise forecasts for Turkey's economic recovery following a full lockdown in May. JP Morgan revised its full-year economic growth forecast upward to 6.8% this week, citing the COVID-19 inoculations.

"Turkey managed to accelerate the vaccination pace sharply," it said in a note to clients. "Despite the slowdown in loan growth and higher interest rates, such a recovery encouraged us to revise our full year GDP growth forecast to 6.8% from 6.1%".

Turkey's tourism sector is facing a second summer in the doldrums because of international travel restrictions, but could get a late boost if the vaccination pace continues and COVID-19 cases, now around 7,000 a day, are contained.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 1.5 million people were vaccinated on Thursday - 12 times the 120,000 daily average until early June.

Turkey administers the vaccines developed by China's Sinovac (SVA.O) and by Pfizer (PFE.N) and Biontech (22UAy.DE). Turkish health ministry had also granted an emergency use authorization for Russia's Sputnik V.

Reporting by Can Sezer and Nevzat Devranoglu Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Jonathan Oatis

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