By Rauf Maltas
SANLIURFA, Turkiye (AA) - Turkiye's homegrown COVID-19 vaccine Turkovac provides protection against the omicron variant of coronavirus, according to a senior Turkish medical expert.
Dr. Ates Kara, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Science Committee and the head of Turkiye Vaccine Institute, told Anadolu Agency that an intensive study on the effectiveness of the Turkish vaccine continues.
Speaking at the vaccine production facility in the southeastern Sanliurfa province, Kara said they are satisfied with the interest shown by people in the domestic jab.
“If we interpret and reflect on what we have obtained from other studies and data, the antibody levels we obtained appear to provide protection against omicron. Our studies in this direction and efforts to bring together scientific data are continuing. When we compare Turkovac with the available data we have, (we see that) it also provides protection against omicron, but it is not possible to say how long it will last,” he said.
The World Health Organization has warned that omicron is spreading significantly faster than the delta variant. It was declared a variant of concern in November 2021.
Emphasizing that people in Turkiye have awareness of vaccination, Kara said his country has "an advantage" as it started the booster shot "a little earlier" than Europe, adding that the situation plays an important role in reducing the effects of the virus.
Noting the importance of a booster shot, Kara said those vaccinated with a booster shot have better protection against the omicron strain.
Turkovac was approved for emergency use across Turkiye in late December 2021. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to make it available globally, saying it will be used to benefit all humanity.
Turkiye has administered more than 132.15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it launched an immunization drive in January 2021.
*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara