Swine flu has killed 656 people in Turkey since October, the health ministry said Thursday.
The death toll was given in a statement issued to deny reports that Turkey bought but did not use about 40 million doses of vaccine against the(A)H1N1 virus. “A total of 656 people, confirmed by laboratories (to have been infected), have lost their lives as of July 29, 2010,” the statement said.
The death rate reached a peak in November and the toll had stood at 627 in January. Turkey, which has a population of over 70 million, initially ordered 43 million doses of vaccine, but eventually bought only six million, for which it paid 33 million euros (43.1 million dollars), the statement said.
About three million doses were used, while the remaining are kept in stock as a precaution, it added. The World Health Organisation declared a swine flu pandemic on June 11, 2009, and says some 18,311 people have died worldwide. The Council of Europe recently called for a probe into the WHO’s handling of the outbreak, which it said caused unjustified scares and waste of public money.
Ankara, July 29, 2010 (AFP)