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Turkey to start human trials for locally made COVID-19 vaccine

Turkey to start human trials for locally made COVID-19 vaccine

A locally made vaccine is closer to reality as Turkey grapples with a surge in coronavirus infections. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting that it was apparent that the human trial phase will begin within two weeks for vaccines developed by Turkish scientists. He also acknowledged “important progress” in the application of vaccines developed elsewhere.

Officials, in the meantime, announced on Wednesday that a vaccine developed by U.S.-based Pfizer and German BioNTech will start human trials Thursday.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced last month that Turkey was days away from human trials for three vaccines out of 13 under development. Turkish scientists are also working on 10 projects for the development of drugs against the deadly disease.

Erdoğan said they aim to “take concrete steps” by the end of 2020 and “solve the vaccine issue by spring.” The president did not name which vaccines will be in the human trial phase within weeks, but media reports say two vaccines developed by Erciyes University in the central province of Kayseri and another by private company Koçak Farma were close to human trials. Groups of healthy volunteers, composed of 20 to 80 people, will be injected in the first stage. The number will increase in the following stages and will eventually reach at least 3,000 people in Turkey and abroad. Advancing to the next stages will depend on whether the vaccines have serious side effects on volunteers.