Turkey has new supply sources to speed up vaccination: Health minister
The Turkish government aims to vaccinate the majority of the population by the end of June, the country's health minister has said.
“We will show all determination and make all efforts to meet this target,” Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a statement after the meeting of the Health Ministry's Science Board on March 31.
On the vaccination front, besides the Chinese CoronaVac and Pfizer/BioNTech injections, Turkey has new supply sources to speed up the vaccination drive, Koca said.
“As a result of negotiations with different producers, Turkey soon will be able to purchase more COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.
The minister added that citizens will be able to choose between CoronaVac and Pfizer/BioNTech jabs before being inoculated.
Turkey has already received 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the figure will reach 4.5 million doses in 10 days, according to Koca.
More than 16 million doses of vaccine have been administered since the inoculation drive began on Jan. 14. Over 9.2 million people have received the first dose and nearly 7 million people have received both doses.
The country has been using the vaccine developed the Chinese pharmaceuticals company Sinovac and the Pzifer/BioNtech jab will start to being administered on April 2.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s innovative coronavirus vaccine candidate based on virus-like particles (VLP) has entered the World Health Organization (WHO) list, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said.
The COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed by Mayda Gürsel from Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ)and İhsan Gürsel from Bilkent University in a joint project, is based on the principle of mimicking a non-infectious form of the virus.
“If all phases are successfully completed, we will have a vaccine candidate at the end of the year, with a capacity of 50 million doses,” Varank said.
Some countries are willing to carry out phase 3 trials with Turkey,” according to the minister.
Turkey is also working to develop an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine.
Phase 1 human trials for this vaccine will begin within two or three weeks in Ankara City Hospital, Koca said earlier this week, adding, “It will probably be ready by the end of the year, maybe earlier if the study is successful.”
UK variant most widely seen virus in Turkey
The U.K. variant of COVID-19 has been detected in all 81 provinces of Turkey, accounting for 75 percent of all cases recorded, Koca said.
“Some 180,448 U.K. variant cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered and also 169 cases of the South African strain in 11 provinces and four cases of the Brazilian variant in two provinces have been detected,” he said.
Also, two of the California-New York strain cases have been found in one province, according to the minister.