Erdogan names Turkish vaccine Turkovac, now in Phase 3 trial
The vaccination development programme began at the Ankara City Hospital with the participation of Erdogan via videoconference, as he watched a volunteer receive the vaccine, local media reported.
"With this vaccine… Turkey is now opening the doors of a new era," Erdogan said, adding that everyone over the age of 18 will have been covered by the vaccination programme in a few weeks.
He said that while Turkey increased efforts in immunising its population - vaccinating around one million daily - with jabs imported from Germany and China, the new Turkovac vaccines would help control any spread in the future.
"It is not clear how long this disease will go on and how much mutation it will go through. It is critical that we have our own vaccine against this disease."
Turkey currently administers the Chinese Sinovac and American Pfizer vaccines. It also authorised the use of Russian Sputnik V, eligible for those over the age of 25.
Erdogan announced on Monday that Turkey will ease restrictions that were put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus from the start of July, as the number of daily cases dropped to around 5,000 from above 60,000 in April.
The country has registered more than 5.3 million cases of Covid-19 in total so far, including more than 49,000 deaths, according to the health ministry.
With the acceleration of the vaccination programme and restrictions gradually easing, Turkey is hoping this will help revive its tourism sector which it heavily relies on.