Press conference on the role of scientific and technological innovation in supporting epidemic prevention and control

A press conference was held Friday morning to explain the role of scientific and technological innovation in supporting the prevention and control of the COVID-19 outbreak. February 22, 2020

Science and Technology Daily:

For each expert seated here, would you like to share your advice and opinions on how to protect ourselves from the transmission of the virus when the resumption of work and production, including Spring farming in rural areas, gets underway in an orderly manner?

Zhou Qi:

This question may concern us most when we have resumed work and production in every sector. How much do we risk being infected when we return to normal  production activities in offices, workshops and farmlands? How can we protect ourselves? I would like to respond in two aspects: how do we contact with the disease and how does it enter our bodies. Given the possible transmission channels, such as, aerosols, excrement and through the mouth, reported by the medical staff and research fellows at the forefront of the work, our science and research team have designed many experiments in an attempt to work out the pathogenic mechanism and how it transmits.

For example, many interdisciplinary teams have designed various experiments of aerosol transmission. Among them, one involved the design of a 30-cubic-meter box to simulate the aerosol environment, and different experimental animals were used to simulate and verify the situations where the virus can affect the human body. Early tests have shown that respiratory droplets and close physical contact are two transmission routes of the virus. If the three conditions of confined space, long-term exposure, and high concentration are present, then there is a possibility of aerosol transmission. However, in an open environment, the chance of transmitting the COVID-19 via the aerosol route is extremely low. Therefore, we must improve each individual's protection awareness and cut off the path of virus transmission. For the companies that have resumed work, here I have two suggestions: one is to maintain ventilation in relatively intensive work places. And the colleagues should maintain a moderate distance between each other, which are effective means of protection.

If infected, we still need to figure out how the virus invaded our body. The virus could be transmitted mainly through the oral cavity, eye and nasal mucus. Therefore, it is very necessary to wear protection covering these parts. For example, to wear masks in a correct way in crowded pedestrian areas is one of the effective ways of preventing the virus from gaining a hold.  

As for other means of virus transmission, it has been proved through scientific tests that it cannot be transmitted through skin contact. Thus, as long as you wash your hands in a correct and frequent manner, you will be able to avoid infection, even via fecal-oral transmission. With the continuous drop in the number of confirmed and suspected patients, with our growing knowledge of the characteristics of the virus, and with our updated methods of control and prevention, I believe that we can carry out precise and targeted efforts to stop the virus spread. Thank you.

Xinhua News Agency:

We have noticed that there is an increasing proportion of content concerning traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the sixth edition of the diagnosis and treatment plan. Does this indicate the extraordinary clinical effectiveness of TCM in COVID-19 treatment? Based on some clinical statistics, could you introduce the application and effect of TCM in COVID-19 treatment? Thank you.

Zeng Yixin:

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the great creations of the Chinese people. It has contributed to an inheritance of over 5,000 years of Chinese civilization. For example, there was once an outbreak of encephalitis B in north China's Shijiazhuang city and Beijing in the 1950s. As the People's Republic of China was just founded and possessed less developed medical services, plus there wasn't any effective treatment globally for encephalitis B, the fatality rate was very high initially, up to 50%. Therefore, TCM was soon adopted in its treatment. At that time, Mr. Pu Fuzhou, a TCM doctor with rich clinical experience, proposed a Bai-Hu-Tang-based herbal medicine for encephalitis B patients based on the climate conditions [Bai-Hu-Tang is a widely used Chinese medicine formula composed of Shi-Gao (gypsum fibrosum), Zhi-Mu (rhizoma anemarrhenae), Zhi-Gan-Cao (radix glycyrrhizae preparata), and Geng-Mi (non-glutinous rice) ]. Different dosage was prescribed according to different situations in Shijiazhuang and Beijing. This turned out to be very effective, and the outbreak of encephalitis B was soon contained due to the joint efforts from both Chinese and Western medicine as well as people from all walks of life. This is one of the successful cases in history.

Many traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theories can be applied in the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. For example, one TCM theory pronounced as "Zheng Qi Cun Nei, Xie Bu Ke Gan" means a healthy body functioning normally is not susceptible to the attacks of epidemic diseases, and even if under attack, a person will not easily get sick. Another TCM theory of "Fu Zheng Qu Xie" focuses on clinical treatment to strengthen bodily resistance to eliminate pathogenic factors and therefore lead to patient recovery. A theory called "San Yin Zhi Yi" means conducting diagnosis and treatment based on the overall analysis of geography, seasonal climate, patients' physical conditions and the development of the illness, which reflects the distinguishing feature of formulating individualized, precise clinical treatment plans in TCM.

In the prevention and cure of the epidemic, the national diagnosis and treatment program well embodies these principles. The recommended treatment prescriptions should be differentiated between early, middle and late stage in the development of disease, and are varied according to the different symptoms. For example, one patient has a fever, and another doesn't; one patient feels chilly, but another doesn't. And even a same prescription should be adjusted according to the conditions of disease. All these theories and principles are integrated in the national diagnosis and treatment program. 

The circle of traditional Chinese medicine actively participated in the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic. The National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and more than 630 TCM hospitals in 28 provincial-level regions have sent nearly 3,200 medical workers to support Hubei province. More than two-thirds of treatments and cures in Hubei have involved TCM practices. Panels of medical experts were formed at national and local levels, with experts specializing in TCM and Western medicine coordinating to address the problem at hand, to promote the establishment and improvement of a mechanism for coordination between the two medicine systems in the process of prevention and cure of COVID-19, to push for the implementation of the system of group consultation by TCM and Western medicine professionals, and to improve the efficacy of clinical treatment. 

I also want to stress that TCM and Western medicine can boost development of each other with complementary advantages, and together, they can safeguard and improve public health. This has become a key feature and strength of the health undertaking with Chinese characteristics. In the prevention and cure of the epidemic, we must insist on enhancing the integration of TCM and Western medicine practices, specify and implement the mechanism for their coordination, and take better advantage of this feature and strength of our own, in order to win the people's war against the epidemic as quickly as possible. Thank you.

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