Turkey hopes to begin human trials for local vaccine soon, says minister
“We have reached a crucial step in developing the virus like particles (VLP)-based injection studies. This [VLP]is one the most innovative methods of vaccine production. We are hoping to move to the human trial phase after completing the necessary stages by the of this month,” Mustafa Varank told reporters during a visit to the facilities where vaccine works are conducted in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.
In the world, only one VLP-based injection has made it to phase one, and the Turkish jab will be the second, the minister added, noting that the studies are carried out in coordination with the Health Ministry.
Initially a facility, which has a production capacity of 50 million doses, is being established and this innovative vaccine technology may stimulate demand from other nations, Varank said, adding that the capacity would be expanded if needed.
The minister noted that in the wake of the pandemic, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBİTAK) COVID-19 Platform was launched to support the virus-related studies.
“We are supporting 17 different projects, including eight vaccine studies,” Varank explained.
Turkey has already inked a deal with China’s Sinovac to buy 50 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The first batch of 3 million doses of the jab was delivered in late December 2020.
The country will also receive the injection developed by Germany-based BioNTech and Pzifer.
The first delivery of 4.5 million doses of the vaccine is expected by the end of March.
Varank recently announced that Turkey was also seeking ways for the joint production of the vaccine with BioNTech.
“Turkey is an important market for us. We are working on options as to how to increase the amount of the vaccines allocated to Turkey,” Professor Uğur Şahin, CEO and the co-founder of the Germany-based company, told daily Hürriyet.
He added that they were awaiting Turkey’s approval for the delivery. “The vaccines are ready, they will be shipped as soon as the approval is received,” Şahin said.
Turkey is planning to roll out a massive inoculation program once the analysis process for the Chinese vaccines at local laboratories is completed. The 14-day tests were launched immediately after the delivery of the jabs.