“Now we are sure that the vaccine is effective and safe on Turkish people,” said Fahrettin Koca, the health minister.

Sinovac did not issue a public statement about the trial, nor did it comment on the trial in Brazil.

Pfizer and BioNTech, by contrast, presented data on 36,523 people to show that its vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95 per cent. For their vaccine, 162 people who got the placebo developed COVID-19, compared to eight in the group that got the vaccine.

Turkey signed a deal with Sinovac for 50 million doses of the vaccine. The first 3 million doses are scheduled to arrive Monday in Turkey, Koca said. Koca said Turkey would also get 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of March. Around 1 million doses are expected to arrive at the end of January, he said.

Sinovac developed CoronaVac in early 2020 and then carried out a series of clinical trials. The company published the trial results in November, reporting that the vaccine appeared safe and provoked an immune response against the coronavirus.

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The company then moved on to Phase 3 trials in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey, countries with high COVID-19 rates.

Health officials in Brazil said Wednesday that the Chinese vaccine had passed safety and efficacy tests that would pave the way for its use in Brazil.

Anger over Russia’s Sputnik exports

This comes as Russians took to social media on Christmas day, local time, to voice frustration after 300,000 doses of the country’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine were supplied to Argentina.

Though the vaccine is readily available in Moscow, relatively small batches have so far been delivered to many Russian regions with several reporting receiving 2,000 doses or fewer so far.

Artists dressed in Christmas costumes perform in the yard of a children's hospital to greet children to mark the upcoming New Year celebrations in Moscow.

Artists dressed in Christmas costumes perform in the yard of a children’s hospital to greet children to mark the upcoming New Year celebrations in Moscow. Credit:AP

Novgorod has received 600 doses for civilian use thus far, according to an official in the local government. Kaliningrad has received 400, according to the Interfax news agency.

“Better hurry to Argentina to get vaccinated then,” Alexander, a resident of Kaliningrad, said on Twitter.

The Samara region has received 2,751 doses of Sputnik V for civilian use, according to local officials, and a further 1,000 for members of the military based there.

“Awesome! 3,000 for Samara, while Argentina gets 300,000…” wrote another Twitter user, Maria.

The Russian health ministry did not respond to a request for comment on any regional shortages of vaccines doses.

“Russians are the absolutely priority,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this month. “And domestic production … will specifically cover the needs of Russians.”

The Russian Direct Investment Fund has struck international manufacturing deals with vaccine makers in India, South Korea, China and Brazil.

Iran cleared to buy vaccine

Iran has found a way to buy coronavirus vaccines following a US exemption to its sanctions, in a breakthrough for the country fighting the worst outbreak of the virus in the Middle East.

Women wearing protective clothing and chadors arrive at a cemetery in Ghaemshahr, Iran, to prepare the body of a person who died from COVID-19.

Women wearing protective clothing and chadors arrive at a cemetery in Ghaemshahr, Iran, to prepare the body of a person who died from COVID-19. Credit:AP

Iran will purchase 16.8 million vaccine doses from the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility by transferring a €200 million ($323 million) payment through two unidentified European and Turkish banks and a domestic bank, central bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati told state television. He said the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control greenlit the transaction “under pressure from world public opinion.”

With around 1.2 million people infected and over 54,000 dead, Iran’s coronavirus outbreak is the worst in the region, and officials have previously said their ability to fight it is hampered by sanctions.

Doctor reports allergic reaction to Moderna

A Boston doctor said he developed a severe allergic reaction minutes after receiving Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine on Christmas Eve, in the first week of the nationwide rollout for the company’s shots.

The case was the first of its kind reported to be linked to Moderna’s vaccine. US federal agencies are investigating at least six cases involving people who suffered anaphylaxis after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which contains similar ingredients, during the first few weeks of its distribution in the United States.

Officials with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have not determined whether an ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine caused the allergic responses. A few health care workers in Britain had also experienced anaphylaxis after receiving the Pfizer vaccine earlier this month.

Dr Hossein Sadrzadeh, a geriatric oncologist at Boston Medical Centre, who has a severe shellfish allergy, said he reacted almost immediately after he was inoculated, feeling dizzy and with his heart racing.

David Kibbe, a spokesperson for Boston Medical Center, said that Sadrzadeh “was allowed to self-administer his personal EpiPen. He was taken to the Emergency Department, evaluated, treated, observed and discharged. He is doing well today.”

The New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg

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