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Turkish University Awaits Swift Approval of COVID-19 Vaccine

If a Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine can be given emergency approval for use, so can a domestic jab, the rector of the university developing a vaccine said Tuesday.

ERUCOV-VAC is among several vaccines developed by Turkish scientists and is the closest to moving to the final stage in development. A Phase II trial on 250 volunteers was completed and more human trials are currently underway.

Professor Mustafa Çalış told Demirören News Agency (DHA) that CoronaVac, currently administered in the country, was still in Phase III trials when the Health Ministry greenlit its use with an “emergency approval,” and the same could be done with their vaccine. “We only need good results from safety tests in Phase III,” he said. Scientists wrapped up the earlier stages of the inactive vaccine, which resembles CoronaVac, in March and cited success in Phase I while analysis of the Phase II trial is still underway.

Developing a locally-made vaccine is critical for countries scrambling to grow their vaccine stocks as fast as they can as the pandemic rages on across the world. Turkey first obtained CoronaVac, developed by China’s Sinovac, before securing a deal with Pfizer-BioNtech for additional vaccine supplies.

The Phase III trial will be conducted in scores of centers across Turkey and abroad. “This stage will take two to three months but Health Ministry will decide whether to give emergency approval, based on the data they have,” Çalış said.

He also called upon the public not to delay getting vaccinated. “People ask us which vaccine is better and some tell us that they were waiting for our vaccine for inoculation. It does not matter. You should get vaccinated whatever shot you have. We don’t have the comfort of choosing our vaccine. We have to get vaccinated with whatever jab is available,” he said. Çalış assured the public that other vaccines were just as safe and efficient. “Otherwise, the Health Ministry would not approve them,” he noted.

Turkey administered more than 19.1 million shots as of Tuesday, since launching its vaccination campaign in January. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday that Turkey would receive at least 30 million doses of Pfizer/BioNtech jabs by June, along with further shipments of CoronaVac.

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