Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that Turkey has launched a licensing process for the mass production of favipiravir, a drug used in COVID-19 treatment.
“Four firms have made their applications for its production in Turkey. The licensing process will be over in 1-2 days,” Koca said on July 8 during a press meeting, after chairing the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Science Committee.
The minister said that once the licensing process is completed, Turkey will sell it on the international market and also use it to treat its own coronavirus patients.
Favipiravir was first developed in the late 1990s by a Japanese company later bought by Fujifilm as it moved into healthcare. The drug works by short-circuiting the reproduction mechanism of certain RNA viruses such as influenza.
Turkish doctors have been using favipiravir in the early stages of the coronavirus treatment, which was initially used by China for intubated virus patients.
In June, Turkey’s Industry and Technology Minister Murat Varank announced that Turkish scientists have become successful in producing the drug.
“It is a source of both happiness and pride that the drug has reached the licensing stage,” Varank said in a written statement.
The local synthesis of favipiravir is one of the projects that has been launched under the COVID-19 Turkey Platform where research and development works have been ongoing regarding the drug and vaccine development.
‘Provincial restrictions might be imposed during Eid al-Adha’
During the press conference, Koca has also dismissed plans to reintroduce a nationwide curfew during the Eid al-Adha (or the “Feast of Sacrifice”) but said that provincial restrictions might be imposed.
“We are not considering a nationwide curfew, but restrictions might be imposed depending on province for the Eid al-Adha. We will again talk about this issue next week, Koca said.
‘Anatolia still experiencing first wave’
Koca also said that Istanbul, which registers about 54 percent of all cases, has reached its peak of COVID-19 cases, but the situation was not so for several provinces across Anatolia.
“The first wave in Anatolia is still continuing,” he said.
Koca underlined that most of the cases over the past three days came from the provinces of Istanbul, Ankara, Gaziantep, Konya, Mardin, Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa.
‘Schools will reopen on Aug 31 if virus’ pace does not change’
Asked if schools will reopen on Aug. 31, as previously announced, Koca said the that if the virus’ pace stays at this rate, the reopening of schools will not be delayed, but if the virus’ spread worsens, then distance learning might be considered once again.
“If the course of the pandemic changes towards Aug. 31, then online or various hybrid methods might be suggested [by the Coronavirus Science Committee],” he said.
Koca also shared the daily virus infection data on his Twitter account. Accordingly, Turkey on July 8 registered 1,041 new cases, bringing the tally to 208,938.
The country’s death toll from the pandemic also rose to 5,282, with 22 new fatalities reported over the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry data.
“Some of the big cities saw their highest number of weekly cases at the pandemic’s fifth week. This was followed by a decrease as a result of the measures. Thirteen of our provinces have reached their highest number of weekly cases in the last month or just recently. New cases are concentrated in certain provinces,” Koca wrote on his Twitter account.