A team of scientists and public agencies in Turkey working on the development of vaccines and drugs against the new coronavirus came together at a conference Thursday in the capital Ankara. Speaking via video link, Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank announced that four vaccines developed in the country have successfully passed animal trials and are headed for Phase 2 clinical trials. One of two facilities for mass production of the vaccine for human trials also received approval for production, the minister announced.
The country set up a COVID-19 platform in the early days of the outbreak to develop drugs and vaccines against the virus under the supervision of the state-run Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK). ERUCOV-VAC, developed by scientists at Erciyes University in the central province of Kayseri, moved to the human trial phase in November. TÜBITAK’s platform which brings together hundreds of researchers from 25 universities, public research bodies and private firms, includes 17 projects on medicine and vaccines against the virus.
Varank said Turkey developed important capabilities for locally made vaccine and drug technologies, and scientists are racing against time. “Researchers pooled their knowledge, resources and labor and brought together different disciplines against one common threat. The platform is exemplary in the world. Currently, they are working on nine projects to develop drugs for treatment and immunity and eight projects on vaccines,” the minister said.
The minister also noted that Turkey has stepped up its vaccine production ability, with three Turkish firms boasting the capacity to produce 160 million doses of vaccines.