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The emergency clearance request for the nationally developed COVID-19 vaccine Turkovac has been submitted to the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency (TITCK), Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday.

Koca was speaking in the capital Ankara during the meeting of the Planning and Budget Committee in Parliament.

The vaccine, formerly known as ERUCOV-VAC, is an inactive COVID-19 vaccine. A similar vaccine, CoronaVac developed by Chinese company Sinovac, had formed the backbone of the country’s immunization program before messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines became available in greater numbers.

Phase 3 trials of the vaccine are nearing completion, a member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board recently said.

In a separate statement, Koca said on Wednesday that Turkey would donate 10 million doses of the vaccine through the COVAX facility, a mechanism for delivering vaccines to underdeveloped countries.

Health Minister and Regional Director of the World Health Organization Hans Kluge also spoke by phone on Wednesday.

“We can only handle this pandemic with solidarity. As we face a difficult winter, I am grateful to @drfahrettinkoca and Turkey for the generous offer to receive # COVID19 patients if needed, to support countries Europeans with overwhelmed healthcare systems and intensive care units, ”Kluge wrote on Twitter.

“Turkey has set a positive example of global solidarity, providing 160 countries and 29 international organizations with # COVID19 supplies, as well as donating more than 2 million doses of vaccine to 11 countries since the start of the pandemic . My thanks to Dr Koca and Turkey, ”he added.

Koca also said on Twitter that the COVID-19 pandemic has lasted longer than expected and demoralized and demotivated people, but the reality still remains with high infection and death rates.

“But with the high number of cases and deaths, the truth is before us, again and again, every day. We cannot ignore COVID-19,” Koca added, calling for a determined fight against the pandemic.

Health workers, who received two doses of an inactivated vaccine and later a booster injection of messenger RNA (mRNA) or inactivated vaccine, may receive another injection, Koca said in a statement after a coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board meeting.

During the meeting, the Minister of Health said that the treatments used in the management of the epidemic were reassessed and that discussions on the use of the antiviral drug Favipiravir were taken up.

“The data collected by our ministry was discussed at our scientific committee meeting, and the drug has been clearly shown to have no significant side effects,” he said.

He also pointed out that the decision had been made to add the antiviral drug Molnupiravir to the treatment guide.

Koca said on Tuesday that Turkey has no plans to implement further lockdowns or closures to manage the scope of the pandemic; instead, he places “great importance on personal precautions … especially vaccinations”, as he answered questions from the press after the Cabinet meeting at the presidential compound.

“In the new period in Turkey, we do not plan to handle the pandemic with closures. In the new period, we attach great importance to individual precautions and especially vaccination,” Koca said and added: “We believe that it is very important so that everyone gets vaccinated. “

The latest weekly figures from the Ministry of Health show that the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people has increased in Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul. The capital Ankara as well as the western province of Izmir – the third largest in the country, on the other hand, showed a decline.

The number of cases for the period from 6 to 12 November shows that Istanbul had an average of 308 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This number was around 241 in Ankara and around 68 in Izmir. Tunceli, Osmaniye, Çanakkale, Kırklareli, Balıkesir, Bilecik, Hatay, Tekirdağ, Adana and Bartın were the top 10 provinces with the largest increases in weekly cases.

According to official figures released on Wednesday, Turkey has administered more than 119.72 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since launching a vaccination campaign in January.

More than 56.1 million people have received a first dose of the vaccine and more than 50.1 million have been fully vaccinated, the health ministry said.

Turkey also administered a third booster injection to more than 12 million people.

The ministry recorded 27,592 new cases of coronavirus, 175 deaths and 28,285 recoveries in the last day.

As many as 364,351 viral tests have been performed in the past 24 hours, the data shows.

Since December 2019, the pandemic has killed more than 5.17 million people in at least 192 countries and regions, with more than 259 million cases reported worldwide, according to the United States-based Johns Hopkins University.

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