ADDS MORE REMARKS BY TURKISH PRESIDENT, INDUSTRY MINISTER
By Firdevs Bulut
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey has become the third country after the US and China to locally develop a vaccine against COVID-19, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
Speaking at the opening of TUBITAK (Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council) Excellence Centers in Gebze district in northwestern Kocaeli province, Erdogan said Turkey has made great progress in developing vaccines and drugs against COVID-19 in collaboration with state and private sectors and universities.
"The COVID-19 Turkey Platform, founded by TUBITAK, is currently working on eight different vaccines and 10 different medicine projects [for COVID-19]," he added.
Trials on animals for two candidate vaccines have been completed. One of them even received ethical clearance and started its clinical phase on humans, the president further said.
- Turkey's external dependence in industry drops considerably
While Turkey continues its fight against terrorism threats and COVID-19, it also endeavors to grow and make progress, said Erdogan.
"Our country's technological infrastructure has become stronger with the contributions of TUBITAK's research centers and institutes.
"In terms of national security, being dependent on external sources in the industry is as serious as political dependence. Turkey has suffered from this for a long time," he added.
"Today, Turkey's external dependence in the defense industry has dropped to 30% from 70%," Erdogan noted.
While insecurities all around the world have risen and investments have taken a hit, Turkey has continued its openings, he added.
"We are hoping to make Turkey one of the leader countries of the 21st century," stressed Erdogan.
- TUBITAK compound to be country's innovation base
TUBITAK's compound will serve as an innovation and R&D base for Turkey, said Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Varank said: "We have set concrete targets in this process leading to [the year] 2023.
"We will raise the shares of export industries in national income 21%, of R&D expenditures 1.8%, and the number of researchers working in these fields to at least 200,000."
He added: "Every step in value-added production, innovation, and entrepreneurship has a much higher impact compared to the pre-pandemic period."
"So we can see that this period offers immense opportunities for our country's sustainable economic development and rise in social welfare."
TUBITAK's compound includes the Institute of Railway Technologies Motor Excellence Center, Marmara Research Center's National Energetics Synthesis and Characterization Laboratory, Biomechanics, Bioelectronics Excellence Center, Center for Research, Development, and Maintenance of High Temperature Materials, the National Metrology Institute's Photovoltaic Performance Test Center and the Defense Industries Research and Development Institute's Environmental Tests and R&D centers.
Turkey has so far confirmed 240,804 cases and 223,759 recoveries from the novel coronavirus, with the death toll standing at 5,844.
Since it originated in Wuhan, China last December, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 728,200 lives in 188 countries and regions.
More than 19.72 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide so far with over 11.97 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.
The US, Brazil, India and Russia are currently the worst-hit countries in the world.