There were some posts about this claim on social media and sent to Teyit. The post, shared on 22 March 2020, got almost 10,000 retweets. The same claim was mentioned in Haber Aydın, Mavi Kocaeli and Yeni Çağ Newspaper.
On March 21, 2020, the Ministry of Health announced that rapid diagnosis kits would be used to diagnose new coronavirus disease. The image in the announcement shows the brand of the kits as BioEasy. The company has headquarters in the USA and China.
The Covid-19 Rapid Test on the website of the company is the same as the ministry’s diagnostic test.
In a press release on March 23, 2020, Fahrettin Koca, the Minister of Health, denied the claims that Atatürk paid the kits by the help in the past.
Teyit reached BioEasy to get information about the claim. The company officials reminded the statements of Fahrettin Koca, the Minister of Health, and stated that the kits were bought. The contract and the pricing information for the kits were not shared for privacy.
Teyit reached the China embassy but it didn’t get any answer.
The Ministry of Health stated that Turkey sent the vaccinations for cholera to China in 1940. According to the document in the State Archive Administration, the delivery of the vaccinations started in 1938, not in 1940. This help was also mentioned in Ulus newspaper (p.2) on July 30, 1938. However, this is not related to the kits sent to Turkey by China.
Figure 1 Republic Archives
Figure 2 Ulus Newspaper, 30 July 1938
The claim could be an interpretation of the expression, “If Refik Saydam Sanitation Institute weren’t shut down, we would produce the vaccination for the coronavirus.”, by Dr. Erol Afşin in the column of Uğur Dündar on 19 March 2020.
The claims after this column offer the documents about the vaccinations for cholera sent to China; however, there is not any source for the diagnosis kits sent for free.
Also, Turkey sent medical support to China at the beginning of February such as medicine, masks, disposable gloves, and disinfection bottles, according to Turkish Airlines Office of Press Counsellor.
In conclusion, the claim that China sent the diagnosis kits to Turkey for free is not true. The post in question is an example of a fabricated content.
The Ministry of Health, Koronavirüs Testi 15 Dakikada Çıkacak, 21 March 2020
BioEasy, Covid-19 Rapid Test
YouTube, Statement of Fahrettin Koca, 23 March 2020
Phone call with BioEasy, 23 March 2020 20.17
Ministry of Health Vaccination Portal, History of vaccination in Turkey
State Archive Administration, Request of UN for China, which applied for the cholera vaccination, 27 July 1938
İstanbul Universit newspapers archive, Ulus newspaper, 30 July 1938
Anadolu Agency, Turkish Cargo, carried humanitarian and medical aid materials to China, 2 February 2020
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Translation: Hilal Ebru Yakar