Turkey will begin animal testing next week in its effort to develop an anti-serum to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic, a senior official announced on Friday.
“The animals will undergo illness, if lightly. Their antibody count will go up and we will get these antibodies by separating them from the blood and other elements,” explained Bekir Pakdemirli, minister of agriculture and forestry.
In the study, which will last until September, Turkish scientists will inject test subjects with isolated and inactive virus samples in efforts that will serve as a precedent for vaccine research.
“Imagine the virus is a soldier ready to go to war, we don’t kill the virus, but get its rifle, the virus is now available for use in the laboratory,” said Pakdemirli, stressing that the fight against the pandemic required multi-disciplinary research.
He noted that the high biosafety precautions would be taken during the study as it involved high health risks.
Tests will first be conducted on horses and rabbits, Pakdemirli said, underlining that these tests would not damage their health as the viruses would be inactive.
“When this study is successful, the vaccine prototype will be produced,” he said, adding that 80 research facilities around the world were working to produce a vaccine against COVID-19.
After appearing in Wuhan, China late last year, the virus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.
More than 4.48 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with over 303,300 deaths and more than 1.6 million recoveries.
In Turkey, the virus has infected 144,749 people so far and caused 4,007 deaths.
*Writing and contributions by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul
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