ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey on Tuesday kicked off Phase III trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, named “Turkovac” by President Tayyip Erdogan who said the shot should be available for use by the end of the year.
Ankara currently administers vaccines developed by Sinovac, as well as by Pfizer and BioNTech. Turkey also granted an emergency use authorization for Russia’s Sputnik V. People over 25 are eligible for the vaccine.
The Turkish vaccine, developed by TC Erciyes University and the Health Institutes of Turkey was previously known as ERUCOV-VAC, and is based on invactivated virus.
“It is not clear how long this disease will go on and how much mutation it will go through. It is critical that we have our own vaccine against this disease,” Erdogan told an event to mark the inoculation of the first Phase III volunteer with the vaccine.
Turkey has sharply accelerated COVID-19 vaccinations, delivering more than 1 million a day last week and prompting hopes of a rebound in the economy and tourism sector.