Vaccine trials give Turkey hope of halting COVID-19 pandemic 

Turkey started phase three trials for a Chinese vaccine Wednesday. Two prominent experts say that once successful, the vaccine can give protection for at least six months and a chance for Turkey to stop the outbreak from spreading further.

Professor Serhat Ünal, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, told a news conference in the capital Ankara on Thursday that in the “worst-case scenario,” the vaccine can provide temporary protection, and if it proves effective, it can protect the population for three to four years. “Once you can break the chain (of infection), you have an opportunity to stop the pandemic,” he said.

Professor Murat Akova of Hacettepe University, where the first volunteers received Sinovac’s vaccine, said they aimed to stop the ongoing risk, ahead of the “most feared months” of October, November and December when the infection rate may increase.

Some 13,000 people will be vaccinated for trials, and in the first stage, 1,200 people, all health care personnel, will be inoculated.

Akova said volunteers will be people between the ages of 18 and 60. “The vaccine was tried on 9,000 people in Brazil and 250 others in Indonesia. None developed serious side effects so far, except a slight case of fatigue and headache,” Akova said.

Serhat Ünal assured the public about the vaccine trials. “We have been working on this for three months and evaluated its ethical and scientific aspects. There will be a trial for another vaccine once this is completed,” he said.

Ünal said the vaccine will be licensed and available for all if the trials succeed, adding that licensing can be completed by the beginning of 2021.