MOSCOW (Reuters) – Turkey is interested in producing Russia’s first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, at domestic facilities, Russia’s health ministry said on Wednesday after a phone call between the countries’ health ministers.
Russia is already testing two vaccines against the virus and is on the cusp of registering a third. It is rolling out its Sputnik V vaccine for domestic use despite the fact that late-stage trials have not yet finished.
“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.
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko assured his Turkish colleague of the readiness to organise such tests, the statement said.
The Turkish health ministry declined to corroborate that claim, but Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed that the two men had held a phone call in a tweet posted late on Tuesday.
“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,” Koca said.
Turkey has reported nearly 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 patients with more than 11,000 deaths since March. In July, the government changed its daily tallies to only report the number of symptomatic patients, in a move critics said was hiding the true scale of the outbreak in the country.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Editing by Michael Perry)