UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY PRESIDENT ERDOGAN; OTHER EDITS
By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) – As prospective vaccines make headlines worldwide, Turkey is planning to unveil its own local COVID-19 vaccine by April, the country’s president said on Wednesday.
"We’ve made good progress on our local vaccine. We plan to bring our own vaccine to market by April at the latest," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group.
Turkey is closely following vaccine developments in China, Russia, the US, and Europe, the president said.
"We’ve already given pre-orders for some of them. We hope to give first shots of the vaccines by the end of this month," he said.
Officials have previously said that healthcare workers and other key figures would get the vaccine first.
The vaccines should be used for the common good of humanity regardless of political differences or commercial interests, said Erdogan.
"We believe it makes no sense for individual countries to secure themselves before the whole world is freed from the epidemic threat," he said, in what seemed to be a jab at developed nations.
Clinical tests of the Turkish vaccine are progressing smoothly, with none of the volunteers exhibiting any side effects, according to recent reports.
To date some 44 volunteers are taking part in Phase 1 trials of the Turkish ERUCOV-VAC vaccine.
Since it emerged last December in China, COVID-19 has infected over 59.85 million people and claimed more than 1.41 million lives worldwide, according to a tally by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.
In the days to come, said Erdogan, Turkey will launch comprehensive economic reforms on investment, production, export, and employment.
"After budget debates [in parliament in December], we will carry out comprehensive reforms in this direction one by one," he said.
He stressed that they would shortly finalize a human rights action plan with measures to boost trust.
"We will present preparations to parliament through our [parliamentary] group after consulting with all sectors concerned with human rights as well as the economic administration and business world," he said.
The reforms will be spearheaded by the People's Alliance, made up of the ruling AK Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), he said.
In recent weeks, Turkey has brought replaced key members of its economic team, including the Central Bank head and treasury and finance minister.
Last week markets welcomed a rise in interest rates from the Central Bank, and Erdogan has pledged further reforms in the months to come.