SCIO briefing on TCM's important role and a list of effective drugs in COVID-19 prevention and control

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Xi Yanchun:

Good afternoon, friends from the media. Welcome to the ninth press conference held by the State Council Information Office in Wuhan, Hubei province. We will brief you on the important role of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in prevention and control of COVID-19. First, a short video will help us get to know today's speakers.

(video clip)

Let me introduce the speakers: Yu Yanhong, a member of the Central Guidance Team in Hubei province, a member of the Leading Party Members' Group of the National Health Commission, and secretary of the Leading Party Members' Group of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine; Zhang Boli, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine; Huang Luqi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences; Liu Qingquan, president of Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine; and Qiu Haibo, vice president of Zhongda Hospital of Southeast University.

Now, I will give the floor to Ms. Yu. 

Yu Yanhong:

Friends from the media, good afternoon! This is my third time to join you in a press conference held by the State Council Information Office in Hubei. On the previous two occasions, I introduced the role and effect of TCM. I would like to take this opportunity to thank journalists for their coverage. Your recognition spurs us to continue with relevant work. 

As COVID-19 moves from epidemic to global pandemic status, the question arises as to what China can offer to the world in terms of its experience in the use of TCM? Many of you have shown keen interested in how TCM can exert its influence.

Friends from the media, under the situation when COVID-19 poses a global threat, several experts and I have gathered here today hoping to conduct more discussion and exchanges, to share with you our thinking on the role of TCM in the prevention and control of COVID-19, as well as its effect in patient treatment. 

General Secretary Xi Jinping has attached great importance to the prevention and control of COVID-19. He has personally led, commanded and deployed all available forces in the battle against the outbreak, emphasizing many times the usefulness of combining TCM and Western medicine. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, with the deployment of the central leading group on epidemic response, as well as Premier Li Keqiang and Comrade Wang Huning, the Central Guidance Team in Hubei led by Vice Premier Sun Chunlan has promoted the involvement of TCM in treating COVID-19 patients. I will brief you on the role TCM has played in epidemic prevention and control in the following aspects:

First, we have mobilized a great many TCM experts. More than 4,900 TCM medical staff across China have been organized to support Hubei, including three academicians and hundreds of experts, accounting for about 13% of the total medical staff assisting Hubei. The size and professional level of the TCM assisting team is unprecedented.

Second, we have been carrying out classified treatment. For mild cases as well as patients in the recovery stage, we applied TCM early on. For severe and critical patients, we combined treatment with TCM and Western medicine. Corresponding treatment plans and norms have been formulated. In the early stage of the outbreak in Wuhan, many suspected cases were waiting for the diagnosis results at the quarantine areas, we offered them TCM decoctions or ready-made TCM formulae to effectively relieve their symptoms and ease the burden on medical services.

Third, we have screened traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) prescriptions and medications in treatment and selected those that are effective against the COVID-19 disease. We promoted breakthroughs in medical science and technology, and synchronously observed the clinical effectiveness of Chinese patent medicines and herbal compounds for inclusion in the fifth, sixth, and seventh editions of the national diagnosis and treatment plan for the COVID-19. Up to now, "three medicines and three formulas" have been proven effective in treating the disease, namely: Jinhua Qinggan Granule, Lianhua Qingwen Capsule, Xuebijing Injection, Lung Cleansing and Detoxifying Decoction, Huashi Baidu Formula, and Xuanfei Baidu Formula. 

People in all the sectors agree that TCM has played an important role and become a highlight in the epidemic prevention and control work. Here is a set of data. A total of 74,187 COVID-19 patients, or 91.5% of the total confirmed cases nationwide, have been treated with TCM. Among them, 61,449 were from Hubei, accounting for 90.6% of confirmed cases in the epicenter province. Clinical observation showed that the total effective rate of TCM treatment reached over 90%. TCM has proven effective in relieving symptoms, preventing mild and common cases from developing into severe cases, improving the recovery rate and reducing fatality rate, and boosting the recovery of patients during their rehabilitation process.

During the epidemic prevention and control, TCM professionals were among the first to arrive at the scene. With proficient medical skills and strong medical ethics, they boosted their motivation to move forward, demonstrated the uniqueness and strengths of TCM treatment, and made great contributions in the fight against COVID-19.

Friends from the media, TCM is a treasure of ancient Chinese science, and a form of holistic medicine that covers prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of illnesses. It enjoys a history dating back to antiquity and extensive popularity among Chinese households. Whenever a serious epidemic has broken out, we have always found suitable solutions using TCM treatment. Various ancient medical classics, including Qian Jin Fang (Essential Formulas for Emergencies [Worth] a Thousand Pieces of Gold) by Sun Simiao, Shang Han Za Bing Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders) by Zhang Zhongjing, Wen Yi Lun (A Treatise on Epidemic) by Wu Youke, and Wen Bing Tiao Bian (Analysis of Pestilential Febrile Diseases) by Wu Jutong, offer a systematic summation of basic TCM theories, clinical practices, prescriptions, medications and medical techniques for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Such books embody the wisdom of ancient Chinese people who have constantly explored, considered and summarized the rules of epidemic prevention and treatment. Inspired by the ancient TCM classic Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (Manual of Clinical Practice and Emergency Remedies) written by TCM master Ge Hong, Tu Youyou, a researcher at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, discovered artemisinin, which saved millions of lives across the world. The discovery won her the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

TCM has also proven effective in treating infectious diseases caused by viruses. In recent years, with frequent outbreaks and the spread of viral respiratory diseases, the TCM treatment of SARS and influenza virus A subtype H1N1 have yielded significant results. Meanwhile, we have accumulated rich experience in responding to emerging infectious disease epidemics. Research confirmed that TCM can enhance the body's immunity by holistic adjustment and can also inhibit the viral infections and even kill viruses.

Despite the lack of any effective drugs or vaccines in the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, medical staff carefully examined TCM procedures and drew on the lessons from the past experience of using TCM in treating viral infections. We have also studied the classic TCM prescriptions devised in ancient times in the light of our clinical practices, putting forward a plan for COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment involving TCM alone and a combination of TCM and Western medicine. This is an important feature and also the advantage of the Chinese plan. We have selected a series of effective TCM treatments featuring three types of medicines and three kinds of prescriptions. This once again demonstrated that TCM, as an everlasting and valuable asset inherited by many generations through the ages, is something to be cherished. It is not only still useful and effective, but also economical and easy to access. 

Diseases know no borders, and a virus is the enemy of all humanity. We are willing to share with the rest of the world our valuable experience and effective treatment on COVID-19. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also underlined the effectiveness of the measures taken by China to deal with the virus, urging other countries to learn from China's experience. 

I would like to take this opportunity to say that TCM community in China would like to strengthen cooperation with the rest of the world, share experiences concerning epidemic prevention and control as well as medical treatment procedures, and provide any part of the world in need with effective Chinese patent medicine, advice, and assistance as much as we could. Thank you.

Xi Yanchun:

Thank you, Ms. Yu Yanhong. Next, we will move on to questions. Please ask questions via the video link, first identifying your news outlet. The floor is now open for questions. 

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