China’s research in major international infectious diseases benefits whole world
By Hu Yuwei and Li Lei
As China ranks among the world’s first-tier countries in treating health emergency, its efforts in prevention and control of major international infectious diseases have increasingly become globally visible.
China has contributed five WHO-certified emergency medical teams (EMT) for a total of 25 international teams from 15 countries.
Amid the outbreak of Avian influenza, A (H7N9) in 2013, China identified the new-typed H7N9 pathogen within only five days. China immediately released the whole gene sequence to the world and, through the WHO, extended the test method to Cambodia, Thailand and other countries within seven days.
Many international institutes including the CDC and the WHO praised China for earning time and making a significant contribution to the global effort in the fight against the emerging epidemic.
China’s success is partly due to its rapid detection of viruses, as well as a sound online direct reporting system. It is capable of rapidly detecting more than 300 pathogens in 72 hours, remarkably contributing to its successful control of Avian influenza A (H7N9) and other seasonal influenza.
After SARS in 2003, China has set up the world’s largest online direct reporting system for infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies, mandating reports of primary medical institutions be directly heard of by the national Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within just four hours.
China’s experience in dealing with H7N9 and SARS has greatly improved its scientific and technological innovation capacity in monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of seasonal influenza and other emergencies.
Such achievements were also exported and shared in the prevention and control of Ebola in Africa.
In December 2016, a Chinese research team developed the rAd5-based Ebola vaccine and it has successfully gone through test in clinical trials in Sierra Leone, the African country severely affected by Ebola.
This is the first time for a Chinese vaccine go through clinical trials abroad. The research team from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army then quickly shared their findings with the whole world by publishing scientific papers in the Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal.
Chinese vaccines for world
After years of exploration, China not only has achieved self-support in terms of vaccine development and manufacturing, but also helped people of other countries get good and affordable vaccines.
Jiao Hong, head of the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), said that China has 45 vaccine manufacturers that can produce more than 60 vaccines and prevent 34 diseases. Every year these enterprises produce more than 1 billion doses of vaccines.
“China is one of the few countries that is self-dependent to produce all the planned immunization vaccines,” Jiao said in a press conference held by the NMPA in June 29.
“So far, some of China’s vaccine products have been exported to countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, making contributions to guarding people’s health in other parts of the world,” Jiao said.
On December 3, 2015, the world’s first inactivated EV71 whole-virus vaccine developed by the Institute of Medical Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Science (CAMS) was approved by the China Food and Drug Administration.
The world’s only vaccine against Hepatitis E infection was developed by the team led by Professor Xia Ningshao of Xiamen University. It was approved for testing in the US on January 12, making it the first Chinese vaccine product to be approved by the US’ Food and Drug Administration for clinical testing.
An official of the China National Biotec Group surnamed Jia told the Global Times that the company has exported a total of 84 million doses of vaccines and other medical products and has donated more than 7 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries.
The Encephalitis B vaccine developed by the enterprise passed the WHO prequalification in 2013, becoming the first attenuated encephalitis B vaccine to pass the WHO prequalification. The vaccine has been enlisted in such country’s immunization plans as Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Thailand and supported in Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia via government-assistance programs, said Jia.