Turkey eyes joint vaccine production with BioNTech
Turkey is considering joint vaccine production with the Germany-based BioNTech, which has developed a COVID-19 injection together with Pzifer, the country’s industry and technology minister has said.
Ankara has already sealed a deal for the procurement of the BioNTech/Pfizer injection.
Some 4.5 million doses of the vaccine will be sent to Turkey by the end of March, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced late December.
Turkey could have access to up to 30 million doses of the jab as part of the deal.
Professor Hasan Mandal, the head of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBİTAK), will soon travel to Germany to discuss the vaccine production, including the establishment of a joint facility in Turkey, Mustafa Varank told reporters on Dec. 31.
Mandal has already spoken several times with Professor Uğur Şahin, the CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, but he will hold face-to-face talks with Şahin in Germany, Varank said, adding that the idea of a joint production facility emerged out of those talks.
“We will discuss the alternatives regarding the production of the vaccine in Turkey. There are no legal hurdles on Germany’s side. However, I do not know if there are restrictions concerning the intellectual property rights. Mandal will discuss all those issues,” Varank furthered.
Şahin has already expressed interest in establishing a joint R&D center in Turkey, where he wants to do cancer studies, the minister added, noting that Mandal’s talk will focus on the vaccine production.
Varank also said that Turkey is determined to develop its own injection.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced earlier this week that Ankara and Moscow agreed to organize a joint production of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
Turkey has already received the virus vaccine develop by China’s Sinovac.
The first batch of 3 million doses of the jab arrived in the capital Ankara on Dec. 27.
The analysis of the content of the shipments already began. Random dose samples have been sent to the local laboratories for tests which will last for 14 days.
Turkey plans to roll out a massive inoculation program starting with health care workers and the residents of nursing homes following the analysis of the vaccines.
Vaccinations will not be mandatory, but Turkey aims to convince the public about the necessity of the vaccination against the coronavirus, making mass vaccination possible.