Donors Help Accelerate Work on Turkey’s Domestic COVID-19 Jab


Genetically modified mice imported from abroad were an expensive tool to expedite research for Turkovac, Turkey’s first locally made vaccine against the coronavirus. The vaccine, which is nearing production, counted on donors who donated money to fuel the effort.

Professor Mustafa Çalış, the rector of Erciyes University, where the vaccine is developed, says their work would be slower and inferior to others if it weren’t for donations from people from Kayseri, the central Turkish province where the university is located. would exist. “Uncle Fevzi called me a month before his death from COVID-19 and asked me if we needed anything,” Çalış recalled on Monday in an interview with the Ihlas news agency (IHA). He points to Fevzi Mercan, a local, who asked him if the 400,000 TL ($ 46,000) he had would be of any use to the university. “We wanted to secure the import of genetically modified mice from the US for vaccine trials when he called. I asked him if he would like to donate it to the vaccine study and he agreed. The money he donated partially covered the purchase of the mice, ”he said.

Süleyman Çetinsaya, a Kayseri-born businessman, also asked them if they needed financial support for vaccine development. When the rector asked Professor Aykut Özdarendeli, the lead researcher of the project, if they needed anything, Özdarendeli asked to buy a device and Çetinsaya immediately took it over. “With their contributions, we are in a better place in vaccine development,” said Çalış.

Scientists started phase 3 trials for Turkovac last month, and more than 846,000 people have volunteered for the final phase of the trials when only 40,800 people were needed. The vaccine is being developed with the support of the Health Institutes of Turkey (TÃœSEB), an umbrella organization of health authorities that is controlled by the Ministry of Health and that monitors and supports the manufacture of vaccines. It is being developed among 18 others against the deadly disease and is expected to be the first to be available if the studies are successful and the Department of Health approves it. Authorities plan to open it to the public by the end of this year and hope to export it to other countries.

Turkovac, formerly known as ERUCOV-VAC before President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan renamed it, was developed by a team of scientists in seven months. It began its Phase 1 trials in November 2020. The Phase 2 trials began on February 10th and no side effects have been reported among the volunteers to date. It can also be used for a third dose as many people have already been vaccinated with vaccines by China’s Sinovac and Germany’s Pfizer-BioNTech. The Sinovac vaccine is an inactive vaccine similar to Turkovac, while the Pfizer BioNTech Jab uses mRNA technology. Turkish scientists are also working on an innovative virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine, which is currently in phase 2 trials.

Turkey has administered 52.6 million doses of vaccine since its vaccination campaign with health workers began in January 2021. Last week she also started giving third or “booster” doses to those aged 50 and over and health workers.

Although the vaccination campaign has picked up pace over the past month with the arrival of more vaccinations from abroad, authorities are trying harder to convince them to take their vaccinations in cases of vaccination hesitation. Experts say that relief from the pandemic is only possible by achieving mass immunity. Reaching a 70% vaccination rate before fall will help the country stave off a potential fourth wave of the pandemic. Fall is a worrying time for a pandemic as more people spend their time indoors. That was the case last year in the country, which was forced to introduce restrictions in November after a relative lull in the summer 2020 pandemic.

Currently anyone aged 18 and over can be vaccinated, but authorities fear little interest in people between the ages of 18 and 35. A report in the Sabah newspaper said the government is considering “affirmative action” for those who have both doses of. have the vaccine. Those who have not been vaccinated twice will be barred from attending certain events and multiple venues, including football matches, cinemas, and concerts.

Vaccinations are vital to the country while the world is being battled with the Delta variant. Delta variant coronavirus cases have been reported in 26 provinces and account for 5% of daily cases, according to a report in Sabah.

The vaccination centers were diversified in the last month. Today, along with hospitals and clinics, people can get their vaccines almost anywhere. When in villages away from city centers, they visit health workers at home or at work. In cities, shopping malls and busy squares are littered with vaccination booths, manned by nurses and doctors who give doses to passers-by. Vaccination stations have also been set up at border crossings in four provinces, while 40 airports across the country offer vaccinations for passengers. Vaccination stations have also been set up at large train and bus stations.


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