Minister volunteers in local vaccine trial
Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank has volunteered to take part in the phase 1 human trial of a vaccine candidate against COVID-19 that is being developed at Ankara Oncology Hospital.
Varank received the first shot of the vaccine based on virus-like particles' technology.
"The work on this particular vaccine candidate was rolled out on March 27 with a total of 37 volunteers and the researchers at the center asked me to support their efforts. I had promised to volunteer [for the trials] and today I made good on my promise," Varank told reporters.
The efforts to develop the injection at Ankara Oncology Hospital are carried out under the roof of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) COVID-19 Platform.
Beside Varank, Professor Hasan Mandal, the head of TÜBİTAK, also received the shot of the vaccine as a volunteer.
"If we find enough volunteers by the end of the year, we will be able to offer this vaccine to the world," Varank said.
The phase 2 trials for the candidate vaccine are set to commence on May 2, according to Professor Fevzi Altuntaş, the head of Ankara Oncology Training and Research Hospital.
Turkey has been working to develop different type of vaccines, including one in the form of a nasal spray.
The country rolled out its vaccination program against COVID-19 on Jan. 14. It initially used the injection developed by the Chinese pharmaceuticals company Sinovac but recently started to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
To date, nearly 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Turkey with some 12.1 million people having received the first dose. Almost 7.8 million people have received both doses.