Turkey includes vaccinees in trials of its local COVID-19 vaccine

The Health Ministry announced on Friday that people who have received two doses of CoronaVac can now volunteer for Turkovac, a household vaccine against the coronavirus currently in a phase 3 trial.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca invited volunteers “aged 18 to 59 who received their second dose of CoronaVac at least 90 days ago” to join the trials and receive their third dose. The first vaccines will be administered at the Ankara City Hospital in the capital, and more cities are expected to be included in the trials with three doses.

Previously, only people not vaccinated against the coronavirus were admitted to the trials.

Turkovac began trials last month, with more than 40,000 volunteers, while more than 846,000 people sought to be injected with the vaccine for the trials. The vaccine is “inactive”, like CoronaVac, which is one of two vaccines available to the Turkish public.

It is developed by a group of scientists from Erciyes University in the central province of Kayseri and the Turkish Institutes of Health (TÃœSEB), a coordinating body of health agencies controlled by the Ministry of Health, which oversees and assists to the creation of vaccines.

The vaccine is among 18 others developed against the deadly disease and is expected to be the first to become available if trials are successful and the Department of Health approves.

It began its Phase 1 trials in November 2020. Phase 2 trials began on February 10 and so far no side effects have been reported in volunteers. It can also be used for a third dose as a large number of people have already been vaccinated with CoronaVac and the German Pfizer-BioNTech, which uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

Turkey administered more than 61 million doses during its vaccination campaign which began in January 2021 and exceeded the number of vaccinations of most countries. After battling hesitation over vaccines and delays in vaccine imports, he broke daily vaccination records, sometimes exceeding 1 million per day.

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