Turkey is interested in producing Russia's first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, at domestic facilities, Russia's health ministry said on Wednesday after a phone call between the countries' health ministers. Russia is already testing two vaccines against the virus and is on the cusp of registering a third. It is rolling out its Sputnik V vaccine for domestic use despite the fact that late-stage trials have not yet finished. "The head of the Turkish health ministry expressed interest in organizing production of the Sputnik V vaccine at Turkish pharmaceutical manufacturers' facilities, after toxicology studies have been carried out, as stipulated by local legislation," the health ministry said in a statement.
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko assured his Turkish colleague of Russia's readiness to organize such tests, the statement said. The Turkish Health Ministry declined to corroborate that claim, but Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed in a tweet late Tuesday that the two men had held a phone call. "We exchanged views on issues in the health sector on which we are cooperating, namely the COVID-19 vaccine efforts, and international operations that we are part of," Koca said.
Turkey last week started human trials for its own vaccine while trials are underway for CoronaVac developed by China's Sinovac and a vaccine jointly developed by U.S.-based Pfizer and BioNtech of Germany.
Turkey's overall tally of coronavirus patients neared 400,000 while the fatalities exceeded 11,000. Recoveries reached a total of 342,501. On Tuesday, the authorities announced new restrictions which were set to start on Thursday. Citizens 65 and older in the capital Ankara and Istanbul will be restricted from leaving their homes except for certain hours as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Senior citizens in the two cities will be allowed to go outside only between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. An exception has been made for public servants and those in certain professions, including doctors, health care workers, pharmacists, elected public officials, social workers and others. Business owners, traders, industrialists, farmers, those who are self-employed and the heads of professional associations have been also exempted from restrictions.