SCIO briefing on the cooperation between China and the int'l community in fighting COVID-19

The State Council Information Office (SCIO) held a press conference Thursday morning in Beijing to introduce the cooperation between China and the international community in fighting COVID-19. March 28, 2020


The novel coronavirus is a new strain of virus. China has done a great deal of work to find effective drugs and clinical treatments for the virus and has formed a complete set of technical schemes. Is China willing to share its technical schemes and research outcomes with other countries? What are you going to do next? What are the most critical experiences and outcomes China can share with other countries to fight COVID-19 in the fields of science and technology? Thank you. 

Xu Nanping: 

Thank you for your questions. As you said, China's scientific and technical personnel have done a great deal of work to find effective drugs and clinical treatments. However, I need to correct your statement that a complete set of technical schemes has been formed. We can only say that we have initially formed a relatively complete set of technical schemes. Since the virus is a new one, there are still many issues to be studied. We can say that the set is only relatively complete because we didn't own any in the past and we have one now. In terms of technical schemes, our research outcomes can be summarized in three sentences. First, a series of TCM and TCM-based treatment approaches we have developed have proved effective in relieving symptoms and significantly increasing the recovery rate of mild or moderate cases. For example, none of the 456 patients with mild symptoms in a temporary hospital developed severe conditions after receiving TCM treatment. The effect of TCM treatment is very obvious. Second, in antiviral treatment, we selected drugs, such as chloroquine phosphate, favipiravir, and carrimycin, and these drugs have shown certain efficacy in our clinical research. It is very important that they can prevent moderate cases from progressing to severe and critical cases. Third, we have developed a series of drugs and treatment schemes, including convalescent plasma, stem cell therapy, tocilizumab, and artificial liver in treating severe and critical cases, and thus effectively reduced mortality rate. This is very remarkable.

Generally speaking, we have achieved some outcomes and initially formed a set of technical schemes. To answer your question on whether we are willing to share our research outcomes on these drugs and treatment schemes with other countries, I think I have made it very clear when answering another question just now. We all believe that these research outcomes are not only the achievements of China's scientific and technical personnel but also the quintessence of human beings' wisdom formed in their fight against infectious diseases over a long period. They are our joint achievements in overcoming the common threat of mankind. Therefore, the research outcomes should be unreservedly shared with other countries to help save the lives of people around the world. Our attitude is clear-cut.

To answer your second question on what we are going to do next, I can tell you that we will take actions in the following three areas: 

First, we will continue to share our research outcomes. China has carried out a vast number of clinical trials, during which some drugs proved to be effective, some showed no apparent effect, and some were ineffective. No matter what the results of the research are, our experience is invaluable because it helps others avoid detours and thus save time. As we know, time is of the essence now. Therefore, how to promote sharing of successful experience and communications on unsuccessful outcomes is very important. We are pleased to see that our previous efforts have offered a reference, as seen in the recently released WHO suggestions on clinical trials and some countries' plans on clinical application and screening of drugs. We will strengthen our work in this respect and publish the results of our previous clinical trials as soon as possible to deepen exchanges with our international counterparts and help them avoid detours by drawing on our experience. 

Second, we will join our efforts for breakthroughs in our research. We have recently noticed that many countries are carrying out large-scale clinical trials on some drugs that have proved effective in our previous clinical practices, such as favipiravir and chloroquine. We have also seen that the scientific and technical personnel in some countries have been screening new drugs for clinical trials. We pay close attention to the progress of such practices as they will be helpful in our work in the future. Meanwhile, we expect to further cooperate with our counterparts in other countries, mainly by participating in more international multi-center clinical trials. Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan is currently in an international multi-center clinical trial. We are willing to join multi-center clinical research or launch joint research with other countries to combine our forces in fighting the virus. 

Third, we need to strengthen communication. As for medicine, each country has its own laws and regulations and its people have their own customs, so a lot of medicine exported could not be used immediately, and there must be a lot of work to do. In this regard, we are now also conducting in-depth communication with many countries, such as through video conferences, to solve these problems and share our experiences.

The third question is China's most important experience and achievements in science and technology. As we have just said: in a short time we have brought the epidemic under control, improved the rate of those recovered and reduced the death rate. This is an important achievement from the scientific and technological community. But what has China's experience been regarding science and technology? Personally, I don't think it is time to sum up all the experiences – we still have a lot of work to do and a lot to explore. But one thing is certain: in the face of such a global problem and global disaster, we can only achieve the best results if we face things together, study together and share our results. Because we are in a race against time, in this process, we must work together to come up with the best plan. For example, drug development, including vaccine development and testing reagents, is subject to approval by the drug regulatory authorities of different countries. In China, the authority is the National Medical Products Administration. In the past, every unit has done their work well and reported to the administration for examination and approval. What did we do this time under the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council? We did all the former serial works in parallel, conducted joint research and review, and solved problems together with the researchers. In this way, the road behind is clear. So, the reason we took only two months to gain these results is because of our concerted efforts. The most important experience is to face, study and share the results together. This is my biggest experience. Thank you.

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