Turkey to start human trials for locally produced COVID-19 vaccine

Turkey will begin human trials for three locally produced COVID-19 vaccines within 10 days, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said.

Koca’s announcement came during a visit to pharmaceutical companies in the northwestern Tekirdağ province where he examined the laboratory where the vaccine is being developed and received information about the process.

After his tour of the premises, Koca informed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the status of the vaccine and relayed the information in a video call.

“I want to share some good news with you,” Koca told Erdoğan. “You know there are currently 13 vaccines being developed in our country for COVID-19. One of them is spearheaded by our professor Aykut Özdarendeli and backed by the University of Erciyes and our ministry. That vaccine has just completed tests on animals successfully, which concluded the preclinical trials. I wanted to give you the good news that the vaccine has reached the human trial phase.”

The minister explained that the animal trials included 19 animals infected with the coronavirus,10 of them given the vaccine, while nine were placed in a control group without administering the vaccine.

According to Koca, the vaccine study led by Özdarendeli was the second vaccine that successfully completed the preclinical trials and reached the human trial phase.

The third one was an inactivated vaccine, which uses the killed version of the virus that causes the disease, that is being developed by Koçak Pharma, Koca said.

Regarding production, once the vaccines are approved, Koca said the facilities he visited were well equipped to produce the necessary volume while complying with good manufacturing process (GMP) guidelines, adding that a similar production plant was ready in southeastern Adıyaman province.

After hearing the details of the vaccine developments, Erdoğan thanked everyone involved for their efforts.

“I would like to congratulate and thank everyone involved on behalf of myself and our people. I hope we can start production soon and start vaccinating our people, so we can significantly lower our patient numbers,” the president said.

Rare symptoms in eyes

Meanwhile, a Turkish doctor warned that some coronavirus patients could show COVID-19 in their eyes, albeit rarely.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Tuncay Sezgin, an optometry doctor, said that such symptoms were reported in at least 1%-2% of COVID-19 patients, noting that eyes are an important transmission route for the virus.

Noting that red eyes, a condition known as conjunctivitis, had been identified in such patients, Sezgin recommended that people in occupations involving frequent and close contact with others should use protective eyewear. He said while protective eyewear would not be sufficient protection by itself, it could reduce the chances of contracting the virus via droplets coming into contact with eyes.

Warning that those suffering from COVID-19 could infect others by talking, sneezing or coughing, Sezgin said the virus could be transmitted if infected droplets reached another person's conjunctiva – the membrane covering the inside of the eyelids and white part of the eyes.

"Protective glasses are preferable to prevent contamination via our eyes," he added.

Sezgin also said changing contact lenses every day, rather than monthly, was another way to reduce contamination risks through the eyes.

Despite the rarity of the condition's relation to coronavirus, he urged people who exhibit sudden redness, watering or stinging in their eyes to see a doctor.

Based on DS

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