Turkey could start Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccination this month

A health worker administers a dose of China's Sinovac Biotech Covid-19 vaccine in Istanbul on Oct 9, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL (REUTERS) - Turkey could start administering China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the month after analysis for domestic licensing is complete, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was quoted on Tuesday (Dec 8) as saying by Sozcu newspaper.

Dr Koca said shipments of Sinovac's Coronavac vaccine will arrive after Dec 11. The vaccine, which has been undergoing Phase 3 trials in Turkey and other countries, will need another two weeks of testing and analysis, the paper said.

In November, Turkey signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of Coronavac, to be delivered in batches between December and February.

Preliminary trial results announced last month showed the vaccine triggered a quick immune response, but the level of antibodies produced was lower than in people who had recovered from the virus.

In Brazil, where Coronavac has also been undergoing late stage testing, Sao Paulo's Butantan Institute biomedical centre said last week it expected Sinovac to publish efficacy results from its vaccine trials by Dec. 15.

Dr Koca said Turkey, with a population of 83 million, wanted to buy more vaccines from China but had been unable to do so, and was looking to Moscow and other possible suppliers to fill the gap until domestic production can meet demand.

"We are completing the missing toxicology part of Russian vaccine, we might buy that vaccine afterwards," he said.

Turkey is also in talks to increase the amount of coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, from initial one million doses, Sozcu quoted Dr Koca as saying.

"They said they can provide 25 million doses in 2021. Turkey won't be needing vaccine after April, as Turkish vaccine will be used," Dr Koca said.

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