Minister urges people to volunteer in studies for local vaccine
Turkey’s health minister has urged the public to volunteer in studies for the development of the country’s own coronavirus vaccine, Turkovac.
In the phase 3 trials, authorities are also giving the local jab candidate to volunteers as the booster shot.
“We need 3,000 volunteers to complete the studies, which are currently being conducted in 41 centers. At the moment, the number of volunteers taking part in those works has exceeded 1,000. This is our own vaccine, our power. I once again call on everybody to become a volunteer,” Fahrettin Koca told reporters on Nov. 2.
For authorities to approve Turkovac’s emergency use, and move to the mass production phase, the trials with 3,000 volunteers should be finalized, the minister explained.
The local vaccine candidate is given to volunteers who have already received two doses of the vaccine developed by the Chinese company Sinovac.
Turkey is using both the Sinovac jab and Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in its inoculation program, which was rolled out in mid-January.
Koca also said that Turkey is not considering vaccinating children under 12 years of age against the coronavirus.
“Giving the jab to children under the age of 12 is not on our agenda. It would not be right for me to say anything about it [vaccinating this age group] for the period ahead,” the minister told journalists.
Koca’s comments came shortly after a member of the Health Ministry’s Science Board said the board would discuss the vaccination of children aged between five and 11.
“However, it does not mean the vaccine will start to be given as we need to see first how the pandemic affects children, severe cases and hospitalization rates among children,” Professor Ateş Kara from the board said last week.
The Science Board is tasked with advising the government on the pandemic.
‘Schools are safe’
Meanwhile, Koca also said that random PCR testing in schools continued.
The measure had started in pilot schools as part of coronavirus measures introduced after the resumption of in-person classes two months ago.
“The positive-test rate was not very high in school-age children, as opposed to the general population…there is nothing to worry about,” the minister said.
Koca reiterated that schools will not close again due to COVID-19. “It is out of question. Some measures may be introduced, but schools will remain open,” he said.
More than 18 million students and over 1 million teachers returned to schools for face-to-face education on Sept. 6 after nearly an 18-month break.