SCIO briefing on the progress of COVID-19 control and medical treatment

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Friday afternoon in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province, to brief the media on the progress of COVID-19 control and medical treatment. March 9, 2020


We have noticed the Chinese government has strongly emphasized the role of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the official medical plans, official statements and even state media reports, indicating the obvious curative effects of various kinds of TCM and even patients being cured exclusively with TCM medication. Meanwhile, at a news conference in Beijing last week, experts from the World Health Organization noted that so far, the only medicine shown to be potentially effective against the COVID-19 is a drug from the U.S. called Remdesivir. My question is whether China's position and views on traditional Chinese medicine contradict those of the WHO. What is China's scientific basis? Are the cases that have been improved or been discharged from the hospital with TCM treatment a result of self-healing? Thank you.

Yu Yanhong:

Thank you very much for your interest in the role of traditional Chinese medicine in the prevention and control of this epidemic. China's diagnosis and treatment plan is a combination of the long-term wisdom of TCM and Western medicine techniques in fighting COVID-19. TCM has an important position in the treatment plan. This is determined by the Chinese health policy of attaching equal importance to both traditional and Western medicines and the recognized curative effect of Chinese medicine. Your question focuses on the curative effect, and I will talk about it from three aspects.

First, TCM has its own theory and practice in preventing and treating epidemic disease. In view of the lack of effective drugs and vaccines in the early prevention and treatment of the COVID-19, we utilized the practical experience and technical methods of TCM in the medication given to patients, exerted the role of TCM in adjusting and enhancing bodily immunity which stimulated the ability of disease resistance and rehabilitation. TCM proved to be an effective method. In the fight against SARS and Influenza A in recent years, the role of TCM has been proved. As TCM advocates often say,"Healthy qi stored in, evil kept away."

Second, facts shows that a large number of patients have been cured and discharged, which proves that the combination of traditional Chinese and Western medicines has remarkable effect. More than 50,000 patients have been discharged, most of whom were treated withTCM. The team of experts confirmed that the combination of traditional Chinese and Western medicines, compared with the simple use of either one alone, can quickly lower a fever,and treat the cough, fatigue and other symptoms, shorten the length of hospital stay, improve the negative rate of nucleic acid test, effectively reduce the worsening development from light and ordinary symptoms to severe or to critical conditions, improve the overall cure rate and reduce the death rate.

I will give you a couple of examples. In regard to COVID-19 patients with mild and ordinary symptoms, a randomized controlled open label trial of 452 patients showed that, in order to increase the turning-negative rate in the nucleic acid test and reduce symptoms, the method of combining TCM and Western medicine is obviously superior to the method of using the latter alone. Another clinical cohort study of 500 patients showed that combining TCM and Western medicine led to their lung CT scans revealing a better condition, and no one in this group developed into severely ill cases. For severely-ill patients, a controlled clinical trial with 75 of them also showed that, by comparing those two methods, on average using TCM shortened the time of viral nucleic acid turning negative and discharge by three days. For critically ill cases, TCM and Western medicine experts conducted joint consultations and syndrome differentiation. And they found that TCM is highly effective in increasing blood oxygen saturation and lowering the incidence of a cytokine storm. The National Health Commission and the National Administration of TCM set up 12 expert groups guiding treatments for critical cases. This is our TCM and Western medicine jointly guiding treatments solution. By further combing the two, it increases the recovery rate and lowers the mortality rate.

Third, as just mentioned, you noticed that many patients were treated with TCM only. Indeed, we drew a preliminary summary for nearly 100 discharged patients with TCM treatment. Many of them had been critically-ill and mainly used the TCM for recovery.

And the relevant cases' study and summarizing work is underway.

During the work of epidemic prevention and control, General Secretary Xi Jinping has always emphasized that we should attach equal emphasis on TCM and Western medicine, seeking ways to combine use of both in treatment of COVID-19 patients. We would love to share the "Chinese experience" and "Chinese treatment plans" of COVID-19, so that more countries could get to know and understand TCM and make use of it. In China, when the epidemic spread, we used TCM for the patients and their symptom got relieved quickly. This enhanced more people's confidence and courage to fight against the disease. Thank you for your question.

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