The Turkish Health Ministry said on Jan. 5 that it will give emergency approval for China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for use if the vaccine is found to be safe following tests which will last at least 14 days.
Turkey received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac early on Dec. 30, almost a week after Ankara said the vaccine was safe and effective, based on interim Phase III trial results.
The Health Ministry said in its statement on Jan. 5 that the vaccines have placed at the ministry's Public Health Medicine and Vaccine Storages. Samples have been taken from the vaccines and they have been forwarded to the labs of the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency (TİTCK) for analysis.
“The analysis process checks if the vaccine's formulation structure has changed or not. This process determines whether the original properties of the vaccine have been protected, the vaccine will have the expected effect and it is safe. If it is found to be appropriate following at least 14 days of testing, it will receive 'Emergency Use Approval' from TİTCK and put into use,” read the statement.
Turkey plans first doses for health workers and those older than 65, the ministry has said, followed by those older than 50 and suffering at least one chronic illness, in addition to those in specific sectors or high-risk environments.
The third group will include young adults and sectors not included in prior groups. A fourth group covers all the rest not listed.
In December, Turkish researchers said the interim analysis showed the vaccine was 91.25 percent effective.
Although at the time, Health Minister Koca said authorities were certain the vaccine was effective and safe, the trial data, based on 29 infections, was seen as too limited for final approvals.
Separately, Turkey has agreed with Pfizer and BioNTech to supply 4.5 million doses of their vaccine, while working to develop its own at home. It also aims to produce Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine domestically.