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Turkey has world’s 4th highest COVID-19 death toll, health economist claims

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Prof. Dr. Onur Başer, a health economist at the University of Michigan who also teaches at MEF University in İstanbul, has claimed that over 89,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Turkey since the pandemic appeared over a year ago, meaning that the country has the fourth-highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the world.

Despite the official figures released by Turkey’s Health Ministry, which showed on Monday that the country’s COVID-19 death toll had reached 32,456, Başer said in an interview with Medyascope on Tuesday that the real number of coronavirus-related fatalities in the country was 89,315.

According to data released as a result of research led by Başer, Turkey – where more than 3 percent of people infected with the coronavirus died – also has the fourth-highest COVID-19 fatality rate in the world after Mexico, Peru and Hungary.

Başer said that in addition to the official figures, his research also included the number of people in Turkey who died of COVID-19 but hadn’t received any treatment and those who had postponed treatment.

The health economist underlined that Turkey’s failure to announce the real number of COVID-19-related fatalities shakes people’s confidence in the statistics announced by the ministry. “There’s a big inconsistency in Turkey’s data, which causes us to decide on deficient or wrong policies [regarding the handling of the pandemic],” he added.

Meanwhile, Ankara Provincial Health Director Prof. Dr. Mehmet Gülüm on Tuesday told the Demirören News Agency (DHA) that the number of coronavirus infections in the city had surged five-fold in the last month, causing intensive care units to be at around 63 percent of capacity.

Turkey, which had eased restrictions early in March and reinstated weekend lockdowns at the end of the month due to significant surge in virus infections, reported 49,584 infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to more than 3.5 million since the outbreak of the pandemic on March 11, 2020.

The country’s inoculation effort, meanwhile, has slowed down after a fast start, with over 10.3 million people given one dose and more than 7.3 million the full two doses by late Tuesday.

Turkey has relied almost exclusively on the Chinese firm Sinovac’s CoronaVac since launching its campaign in mid-January.

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