Turkey announced on Wednesday that the homegrown COVID-19 vaccine Turkovac was approved for emergency use.

"As of today, we have become one of the nine countries producing a COVID-19 vaccine," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said at a production facility in the southeastern Sanliurfa province.

The vaccine will be in widespread use as of next week, he announced.

After half a century, Koca said, Turkey has developed a vaccine that was grown "100% locally by Turkish scientists."

Turkovac to benefit all people worldwide

Attending the ceremony marking the serial production of the domestic vaccine via video link, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it is "utmost importance" that Turkey produced a vaccine against COVID-19.

"Our TURKOVAC vaccine, which has reached the stage of production and use by obtaining the necessary approvals following a long period of preparation and research, is a symbol of our efforts to protect our people from the pandemic in the most effective way," he said.

Turkey will offer its citizens Turkovac as a third vaccine besides Pfizer/Biontech and Sinovac.

Since early in the vaccine's development, Erdogan has vowed to make the vaccine available globally, saying it will be used to benefit all humanity.

"With the production of Turkovac, we will be pleased to share our vaccine with the entire humanity," he said.

Erdogan also stated that Turkey has shared medical equipment with 160 countries and 12 international organizations across the world amid the pandemic.

Turkey has administered more than 125.76 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it launched an immunization drive this January, according to latest official figures.