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Turkey set to build vaccine, biotech hub in capital Ankara

31 December 2021 [14:17] - TODAY.AZ

By Trend

Turkey recently joined the list of nine countries to develop and produce its own vaccine against coronavirus with Turkovac, but it does not plan to stop just there with vaccine development. A vaccine and biotechnology "base" will be built in the capital Ankara and will be operational by the end of 2022, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says the work is a tribute to the legacy of Refik Saydam, the country's fourth prime minister and a physician who founded H?fz?s?hha, or Public Health Institute, decades ago.

The vaccine and biotechnology center, which will be equipped with smart building technology, will be constructed through a tender that is now in its final stages and central to Turkey's efforts to raise its profile as a self-reliant country in health care. Koca says Turkey aims to be stronger and more ambitious 25 years after it stopped producing its own vaccines. The last vaccine it produced was a Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine against tuberculosis. Koca notes that Turkey had two centuries of experience in vaccine production and strived to revive it in the early years of the Republic of Turkey but the production of a "100%" locally made vaccine by cells started five decades later.

The center will have an area of 50,000 square meters (538,195 square feet) and will tap into resources of the Health Ministry, universities and private sector in terms of vaccine development and production capacity. The facility will serve as a research and development and production venue for vaccines and genetics products. It will produce inactive messenger RNA (mRNA), nasal and adenovirus vaccines against coronavirus. The minister said they have planned technology transfer from South Korea and Japan initially to improve the potential of the center.

Vaccine production is crucial for countries during the COVID-19 pandemic when the world is scrambling to secure vaccine supplies. Turkey started working on developing its own vaccine in the early days of the pandemic while it offered China's CoronaVac, an inactive vaccine like Turkovac and Pfizer-BioNTech's mRNA vaccine to the public. Turkovac is now open for the public and city hospitals have started administering first jabs on Thursday. It will soon be available in all other vaccination venues. Koca said the scientists were now studying the vaccine's efficacy against the fast-spreading omicron variant. He added that they currently had 135,000 doses of Turkovac available and would produce 3 million doses of vaccines in the next three months.


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