Turkey is considering a request from Russia to conduct phase three trials of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Thursday, adding a decision would be made in the next week.
Russia has recently announced the development of the "Sputnik-V" vaccine, the world's first registered coronavirus vaccine, as proof of its scientific prowess.
Speaking to reporters after holding talks with local health officials in southeastern Turkey, Koca said phase three work had already started on vaccines from China and Pfizer, adding that the Russian request was being evaluated.
"We have received a request regarding phase three trials for this vaccine. We saw that the application dossier was sufficient, that pre-clinical efforts, as well as phase one and two, were completed," Koca said.
"Our vaccine science team will have made an evaluation on the issue in the coming days. We may probably allow phase three work for the vaccine in Russia next week," he said, adding 13 different Turkish vaccine efforts were underway in the country, but only at pre-phase one levels so far.
Russian regulators licensed the vaccine for domestic use in early August after initial, small-scale human trials. It is now being tested on 40,000 people in Russia in a trial that launched on Aug. 26.
The Russian Sputnik-V vaccine is administered in two doses, with each based on a different vector that normally causes the common cold: human adenoviruses Ad5 and Ad26. Russia has said it expects to produce between 1.5 million and 2 million doses per month by the end of the year, gradually increasing production to 6 million doses a month.
Around 180 vaccines to combat COVID-19 are in development worldwide, including 35 in human trials, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
"No disease in history has seen such rapid development in research. It's testament to the incredible advances in science and technology the world has made in recent years," Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. "It must be matched by its ambition to ensure as many people as possible have access to them."
Turkish authorities announced earlier last month that a vaccine could be available in early 2021. Eighteen studies are underway in the country, eight for vaccine development and 10 for drugs.
A state-run platform oversees the studies. Anti-coronavirus projects, which are coordinated through the platform, include 225 researchers from 25 universities, eight public research bodies and eight private firms.