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China Rushes To Save Its Ass - Three Chinese Vaccines against COVID-19 are on the Way (They Say)


BEIJING, April 15, 2020 -- According to the latest news from Science and Technology Daily (April 14th), two COVID-19 inactivated vaccines were just approved for a phase I & II combined clinical trial by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) of China, making them the first batch in this category. The two vaccines were developed respectively by Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co., Ltd of Sinopharm and Sinovac Research & Development Co., Ltd together with research institutes.

This is another piece of good news since the team of Chen Wei, academician at China Academy of Engineering and researcher at Academy of Military Medical Sciences, managed to get clinical trial approval for the recombinant COVID-19 vaccine they developed on March 17th.

"We are taking the lead in developing COVID-19 vaccines in a global perspective," said with pride by Wang Junzhi, academician at China Academy of Engineering. Then he proposed four factors for this achievement: early start, accurate direction, being science-based and collaboration from all parts.

Vaccine is not a distant solution for a current emergency, but rather the most powerful weapon to defeat COVID-19.

China made the decision to accelerate the pace based on rational judgement and organization with the premise of safety assurance. As early on January 21st, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) announced the establishment of an expert group of joint epidemic prevention and control against COVID-19. The expert group was led by Zhong Nanshan, academician at China Academy of Engineering, and consisted of 14 experts. On 22nd, the first eight emergency programs of Scientific Response to COVID-19 were initiated swiftly.

The expert group had decided on five directions for vaccine development: inactivated vaccines, genetic engineering subunit vaccines, adenovirus vector vaccines, nucleic acid vaccines, and vaccines using attenuated influenza virus as vectors. All five directions were to be followed at the same time. Eight teams of advantage in vaccine development were singled out to collaborate on this mission with a detailed plan of work nodes accurate to the day.

Thanks to Chen Wei's accurate judgement and accumulation of knowledge and experience in vaccine development, her team was the first to reach breakthrough achievements. In early February, she suggested that COVID-19 remains a coronavirus despite its possible variation. Therefore, mutual target antigen, pathogenesis and receptor could be identified quickly with the help of bioinfomatics and big data mining once the variation appears. And the vaccine development can be improved swiftly accordingly.

Since the start of the program, Chen Wei's team has conducted research on recombinant COVID-19 vaccine (adenovirus vector vaccine) based on the successful experience in Ebola vaccine development with great speed. On March 17th, the team's recombinant COVID-19 vaccine was approved for clinical trial, which took place one month in advance than expected. By April 2nd, all 108 subjects of phase I clinical trial in Wuhan had been inoculated. On 9th, phase II clinical trial, which has a larger scale and introduces placebo control groups, started recruitment for volunteers.

Meanwhile, all other directions have also made progress.

Lei Chaozi, head of Department of Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education, introduced the current achievements: research on the safety and validity of experimental animal for attenuated influenza vector vaccine is ongoing and pre clinical trial research for vaccine candidates and application for clinical trial are expected by the end of April; animal experiments on mice and rabbits regarding recombinant protein vaccine are being conducted and the technology of large-scale production of vaccine with high quality and purity has been mastered; nucleic acid vaccine development is a new technology being explored by the whole world, but no such vaccine has entered the market yet.

At the same time, Wang Junzhi specifically emphasized the safety issue of the vaccine: "On the one hand, Chinese scientists seek to make full use of time with great effort. On the other hand, they conduct research under scientific laws and ensure the safety and validity of the vaccine. All research and development activities are in accordance with corresponding regulations and technological requirements."

SOURCE Science and Technology Daily

BBC: China coronavirus: Misinformation spreads online about origin and scale

London UK January 20, 2020; At least 170 people have died as a result of the outbreak of a new coronavirus,

The number of confirmed cases of the virus in China has risen to 7,711 and infections have been reported in at least 15 other countries.

But not only has the virus spread, so too has misinformation.

Numerous conspiracies have appeared since the outbreak - not to mention dubious health advice.

The BBC Monitoring team has been taking a look at where these have all come from.

False health advice

As the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise, social-media users have been sharing advice on ways to treat or prevent the disease.

But at least some of the tips have proved to be misleading or false.

One such claim - shared 16,000 times on Facebook - advises users in the Philippines to "keep your throat moist", avoid spicy food and "load up on vitamin C" in order to prevent the disease.

The information is said to be from the country's Department of Health but it does not match the advice on the DOH website or its official press releases on the outbreak.

Journalists and fact-checkers have found posts with identical or slightly altered wording - said to be from local health authorities - are also being circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp in Canada, Pakistan and India.

As was the case with the Philippines, the advice does not match the information provided by health officials in those countries.

Another unsubstantiated claim shared online suggests avoiding cold or preserved food and drinks, such as ice cream and milkshakes, for "at least 90 days".

One of the first to share this advice was a Facebook page called ForChange.

It accompanied the post with a video of a parasite being removed from a person's lips, suggesting the procedure was somehow related to the new coronavirus.

But, as Altnews fact-checkers pointed out, the video is in fact three months old and unrelated to the virus.

Facebook has since marked the ForChange post as "false information" but dozens of identical messages are still being circulated on the platform.

The World Health Organization's official advice for the public on the new coronavirus suggests only avoiding consuming "raw or undercooked animal products".

There is currently no vaccine against the virus but standard recommendations to prevent infections apply.

These include:

  • regular hand washing
  • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or, failing that, with the crook of your arm
  • thoroughly cooking meat and eggs
  • avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as coughing or fever

Bat soup videos

From the very beginning people speculated online about the origin of the coronavirus. This was exacerbated by a slew of videos said to be showing Chinese people eating bats amid the deadly outbreak in Wuhan.

One such clip shows a smiling Chinese woman holding a cooked bat on camera, before admitting it tastes "like chicken meat". The video prompted outrage online, with some users blaming Chinese eating habits for the outbreak.

But the video was not shot in Wuhan, or in China for that matter. Originally filmed in 2016, it shows popular blogger and travel show host Mengyun Wang during a trip to Palau, an archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean.

The clip resurfaced on social media after cases of the new coronavirus emerged in Wuhan late last year.

Following online backlash, Ms Wang apologised, saying she was "just trying to introduce the life of local people" to the audience and had not known that bats could be a virus carrier. Her video has since been taken down.

The new coronavirus is believed to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan. Although bats have been named in recent research from China as a possible source of the virus, bat soup is not particularly commonplace in the country and the investigations into its exact origins continue.

Outbreak 'planned'

As the United States reported its first case of the coronavirus last week, several patent documents started to circulate on Twitter and Facebook that at first glance appear to suggest experts have been aware of the virus for years.

One of the first users to float these allegations was conspiracy theorist and YouTuber Jordan Sather.

In a lengthy thread that has been retweeted thousands of times, he shared a link to a 2015 patent filed by the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, England, that talks about developing a weakened version of coronavirus for potential use as a vaccine to prevent or treat respiratory diseases. The same link has also been widely circulated on Facebook, mainly in conspiracy and anti-vaccination groups.

Sather used the fact that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a donor to both Pirbright and vaccine development to suggest that the current outbreak virus has somehow been deliberately manufactured to attract funding for the development of a vaccine.

"And how much funding has the Gates Foundation given to vaccine programs throughout the years? Was the release of this disease planned? Is the media being used to incite fear around it?" Sather tweeted.

But Pirbright's patent is not for the new coronavirus. Instead, it covers the avian infectious bronchitis virus, a member of the wider coronavirus family that infects poultry.

As for the speculation about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pirbright spokeswoman Teresa Maughan told Buzzfeed News that the institute's particular work with the infectious bronchitis virus was not funded by this foundation.