Health workers in southern Turkey took part on Friday in Phase 3 trials for a candidate Chinese vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

In a written statement by the Cukurova University Hospital in Adana province, the vaccine trial was first conducted on Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Ozay Akyildiz, followed by other staff who volunteered to take part in the tests.

Dr. Ferit Kuscu, an infectious diseases and clinical microbiology specialist, told that the vaccine was first administered in the Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine in the capital Ankara and later at 25 centers on volunteering healthcare workers and other individuals.

Noting that nearly 450 healthcare workers across Turkey had been vaccinated so far, Kuscu said no serious side effects were reported during the trials.

He added that the initial aim was to administer the vaccine to 60 healthcare workers and then other volunteers. Two doses of the vaccine are administered per person over an interval of 14 days.

Meanwhile, tests for a COVID-19 candidate vaccine also continued in southwestern Turkey, with Akdeniz University’s rector Dr. Ozlenen Ozkan receiving a dose on Friday.

“The entire world and all of humanity have attached their hopes to [COVID-19] vaccination […] As Akdeniz University, we entered the Phase 3 [trials] of Chinese vaccine. We will conduct the first tests today. It seems we’ve no choice but to vaccinate. We’ll either get the coronavirus or the vaccine […] There are also efforts for a Turkish vaccine candidate. I hope they are successful,” Ozkan said.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that there had been “great developments in COVID-19 vaccination trials.”

“Let’s wait for the results,” Koca said.

Turkey has so far reported more than 404,000 COVID-19 cases, while over 346,000 of the patients have recovered from the disease which has claimed 11,233 lives in the country.

Since first being detected in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19 has claimed over 1.29 million lives in 191 countries and regions.

More than 52.7 million cases have been reported worldwide, including 34.1 million that have recovered, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara

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