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Turkey 'interested' in producing controversial Russian 'Sputnik' Covid-19 vaccine Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Turkey 'interested' in producing controversial Russian 'Sputnik' Covid-19 vaccine

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine was approved for domestic use before Stage 3 trials [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 November, 2020

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Turkey's health minister hinted at confirming the announcement by his Russian counterpart, saying the two men discussed issues on efforts to produce a vaccine in a phone call.

Turkey has said it is "interested" in producing Russia's controversial Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, at facilities within the country, Russia's health ministry announced on Wednesday.

"The head of the Turkish health ministry expressed interest in organising 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, Reuters report.

It added that Russia's Health Minister Mikhail Murashko offered assurances to his Turkish counterpart that Moscow was on standby to organise the toxicology tests.

There was no direct confirmation from the Turkish side, but Ankara's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the two men had spoken on the phone.

"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," he said in a tweet late Tuesday.

Russia's vaccine - which Moscow claims is "92 percent effective" - has raised concerns among Western scientists about its domestic use in August before full clinical trials were completed.

While the vaccine showed promising results in early trials, Russia has not yet completed the final phase of clinical testing, in which large numbers of people receive either the vaccine or a placebo.

Russia is currently testing two vaccines against the virus and will soon register a third.

Turkey has confirmed nearly 400,000 positive coronavirus cases, with over 11,000 deaths.

In July, the government changed its daily tallies to report only those patients which showed symptoms, drawing accusation of cover-up of the true scale of the outbreak in the Mediterranean country.

Read also: Turkey imposes new coronavirus restrictions on elderly in Ankara as cases surge

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