Turkey's COVID-19 vaccine candidate enters final stage: Minister
Turkey’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate has reached its final stage of human trials, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said as the country is gearing up to give a boost to its inoculation drive.
“Next week volunteers will be vaccinated for phase 3 human trials. Many vaccine development projects are underway. One of them has reached the final stage,” Koca said following the Health Ministry’s Science Board meeting on June 9.
Scientific studies on the necessity of a third dose for people who have received the two doses of the vaccine are underway, the minister added, noting that the locally developed vaccine could be administered as the third dose.
Meanwhile, the scope of the vaccination program is further expanding as those aged 45 and older started to receive their COVID-19 injections on June 10.
According to the minister, people over the age of 40 will also be included in the vaccination drive on June 14.
This week, musicians, academics, university staff, as well as movie and TV series production crews started to receive their first doses of the coronavirus injections.
Some 97-98 percent of people who arrange a jab appointment with health facilities stick to their schedule and get their shots, Koca also said.
As far as the vaccine deliveries are concerned, the minister informed that a new batch of vaccines developed by the Chinese pharmaceuticals company Sinovac is expected to arrive in Turkey shortly.
“Sinovac will deliver a total of 14 million doses in three batches and the first bunch of the vaccines may arrive this weekend,” Koca said.
According to Koca, Uğur Şahin, co-founder and CEO of Germany-based BioNTech, which is jointly producing a COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer, is expected to pay a visit to Turkey at the end of June.
Turkey has already received 14.5 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs, and by the end of this month 30 million doses should arrive, the minister said, noting that 4.2 million doses of this vaccine are expected to be delivered early next week on June 14 or June 15.
“If we receive those 30 million doses, we can start to vaccinate people as young as 20 by the end of June,” Koca added.
The main issue for Turkey is how to return to a normal life as soon as possible with vaccinations, he said.
“We are putting those difficult days behind.”
Turkey has been using both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccines in the inoculation drive which was rolled out in mid-January.
To date, nearly 32 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country. More than 18.5 million people have received their first doses while close to 13.5 million people have been fully vaccinated.