Science, preparing a vaccine in laboratory

Turkish scientists work on a DNA vaccine against the coronavirus

The vaccine, developed by a university in İzmir, will be based on DNA injection, a new technique more effective than traditional vaccines. Turkey is already mass-producing ventilators, masks and disinfectants.

A team of scientists from the University of the Aegean of İzmir, on the west coast of Turkey, has begun work on the development of a DNA vaccine to combat the coronavirus, according to the head of the university, while public and private companies strive to manufacture respirators, masks, and disinfectant products.

In a statement, Necdet Budak, rector of the University of the Aegean, explained that the decision to launch the project had been made in light of the search that other countries are making for a remedy to stop COVID-19.

Research carried out by Turkish scientists will focus on developing a DNA vaccine, a new technique in which modified DNA encoding an antigenic viral protein is directly injected, activating the immune system and generating antibodies that neutralise the virus. Although until recently this technique was still experimental, it represents the future of vaccination, since DNA vaccines are very easy to produce and store.

“At the University of the Aegean, we have started working on our own DNA vaccine at the request of our minister,” said Budak. Last week the Minister of Industry and Technology of Turkey, Mustafa Varank, stressed the importance of developing medicines and a vaccine against the new virus, and assured that the State would lend support to all kinds of institutions that work to achieve it.

Turkey begins mass-producing ventilators, masks, and disinfectants

Varank also announced the launch of mass productions of ventilators, essential for people with COVID-19 symptoms entering intensive care units, with an anticipated immediate delivery of at least 6,000 units. The Turkish government has prohibited, except with prior authorisation, the export of various medical devices, including ventilators, breathing tubes, intensive care monitors or masks.

In addition, Turkish car manufacturing company Ford Otosan announced on Friday that it will start producing face masks using 3D printers; the masks, which will have a simple but effective design to reduce costs and the need for materials as much as possible, have been designed by the company’s R&D department and will offer a full 150 degree facial protection. The transparent part will be made of PET.

The Turkish Defense Ministry also recently announced that it had stepped up mask production in its factories and industries as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In total, the production of disposable masks has increased to close to 500,000 pieces per day; the production of disinfectants and full masks against biological and chemical agents has also increased.