(Adds minister quotes)
ISTANBUL, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Turkey began final Phase III trials of an experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, the health minister said.
"The first administration of the Sinovac vaccine was started with three healthcare workers at Hacettepe University, who volunteered to take part in the trials," Fahrettin Koca told a news conference.
The vaccine will be administered to between 1,200 and 1,300 health workers over 10 days and a second dose will be given 14 days after the first, broadcasters CNN Turk and Haberturk reported earlier.
The results of the trial will be sent the World Health Organization (WHO).
Koca added that Turkey continued its own attempts at developing a vaccine.
The Sinovac vaccine candidate will later be administered to volunteers with chronic diseases, with the aim of vaccinating 13,000 people, the broadcasters said.
Koca also said 63 more people had died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, and that there were 1,771 new cases.
The minister announced last week that Phase III work had started on the Chinese vaccine candidate, as well as another developed by Pfizer. Russia's application to conduct Phase III trials in Turkey for its experimental vaccine was being evaluated and a decision would likely be made this week, he said.
China is administering experimental coronavirus vaccines to tens of thousands of its citizens, attracting international interest, despite experts' concerns over the safety of drugs that have not completed standard testing.
China launched a vaccine emergency use programme in July, offering three experimental shots developed by a unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and U.S.-listed Sinovac Biotech.
A fourth coronavirus vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics was approved for use by the Chinese military in June. (Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Mark Potter)