Last week, Turkey initiated mass production of its domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine Turkovac after receiving emergency approval following studies on volunteers that demonstrated its efficacy, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.
In a televised interview, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan underlined that the local vaccine is also sure to eliminate any hesitancy among the Turkish public that may have arisen due to widespread conspiracy theories and anti-vaxxer propaganda as the country has neared 130 million total jabs administered.
“I know that there is a group of our citizens that hesitate – albeit in a groundless thought – to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” the president said on Friday during an ATV broadcast.
“With Turkovac, which has been produced by our own scientists in Turkey, I call upon those citizens to get their jabs as soon as possible,” he added.
Turkey jumped into action after the first coronavirus case was reported in March 2020 and launched studies to develop its first vaccine to combat the outbreak.
Among the vaccine studies supported by the Presidency of Turkish Health Institutes (TUSEB) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), the inactive vaccine developed by Erciyes University showed the fastest progress.
While the development process for Turkovac began in April last year, the preclinical stages, where animal trials were conducted, were successfully concluded in October 2020.
Phase 1 studies for the vaccine kicked off the following month and it was administered to 44 volunteers. Phase 2 studies were launched on Feb. 10, 2021, with 250 volunteers. With both phases showing positive data, authorities moved onto Phase 3 of the development process.
As part of the Phase 3 studies, the first dose of the vaccine was administered on June 22, 2021, in a program in which Erdogan participated and announced the name of the vaccine – Turkovac.
Thousands of volunteers, who had not been infected with COVID-19 or had gotten vaccinated before, were given Turkovac as part of the Phase 3 studies.
In October this year, Turkovac was administered as a booster shot. Volunteers who previously received two doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine were given Turkovac or Sinovac, depending on their personal preference.