ANKARA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Turkey announced on Wednesday that the China-developed Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy of 83.5 percent against COVID-19, furthering the country's confidence in winning the fight against the pandemic.
The CoronaVac shot developed by Sinovac Biotech was 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization, according to the Phase-3 trials by the Hacettepe University in Ankara, the semi-official Anadolu Agency reported.
No major side effects have been reported, professor Murat Akova from the university who led the trials, told reporters during a press conference.
He added that the antibody levels were predicted to reach their maximum between 14 and 28 days after the second dose.
According to the university, no deaths were reported during the trials and common side effects include fatigue, headache or muscle pain.
Turkey has been running trials for the vaccine since last September.
Professor Serhat Unal, a prominent specialist of infectious diseases at Hacettepe Medical University, told Xinhua that he was confident about such an outcome from the start.
"I am happy about the outcome. Phase I and Phase II of the study were also very successful," said Unal, who contracted the virus last March and recovered.
Unal, also a member of the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, said that the vaccine's efficacy in people aged 65 and above is likely to be similar.
Turkey started its vaccination drive on Jan. 14 and has given out over 9.5 million doses. The vaccine requires two shots with 28 days apart.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that Turkey aims to vaccinate 52.5 million people by the end of May. To date, more than 10 percent of Turkey's 83 million population has received at least the first dose.
Healthcare workers, elderly people and people with serious medical conditions were among the first to receive the jab. The drive has been extended to teachers with the gradual reopening of schools along with the easing of restrictions.
"I got my two shots and felt minor side effects such as a headache. It is a big relief to know that this vaccine will eventually prevent me from being hospitalized and even death," Ayser Akinci, a pensioner aged 83, told Xinhua.
"All of my friends got this vaccine which is for us a real life saver at this point, we are grateful to those who have developed it," she said.
The Ankara government on Monday loosened restrictions that have been in place for months, restarting in-person education, lifting weekend lockdowns, and allowing restaurant dining with a limited capacity and wedding ceremonies with max attendance in line with the situations in individual provinces.
However, the country's nationwide curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on weekdays will continue.
"I'm eagerly waiting for my turn to get inoculated. It seems that the Chinese vaccine is very effective and I don't have any hesitation to have it when my time comes," said Halil Kaplan, manager of a thrift store in downtown Ankara's Kizilay district.
The 47-year-old man added that his 74-year-old mother received two doses of Sinovac vaccine and was feeling well.
"Some people who are not scientists seemed doubtful about this vaccine, but tests proved them wrong," he added. Enditem