SCIO briefing on China's regular prevention and control of COVID-19

The State Council Information Office held a press conference Friday afternoon in Beijing on China's regular prevention and control of COVID-19. May 16, 2020

Hu Kaihong:

Due to time constraints, we will only take two more questions.

Cover News:

With the normalization of pandemic prevention and control, the public is growing more concerned about the development of vaccine research. Can you give an overview of recent development? Thank you.

Zeng Yixin:

We are all very concerned about vaccines. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, under the joint prevention and control mechanism and led by the Ministry of Science and Technology, we have set up a scientific research team. Under this team, we have a special sub-team that is responsible for organizing, coordinating and serving all units to promote vaccine research and development. At present, overall development is going smoothly. We have made such progress largely thanks to our institutional advantages. We can fully integrate resources and coordinate advantages in all aspects. Medical institutions, for example, can obtain viral samples from infected cases, cooperation between medical institutions and scientific research institutions is enabled, and cooperation between scientific research institutions and enterprises is also possible. Government departments also play a vital role. The whole process of vaccine development must be strictly examined and approved by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control, and the Center for Drug Evaluation under the NMPA. Therefore, it is very important to take joint actions with these government departments. The Ministry of Science and Technology has been supportive in project establishment and security of funding. With its timely help, we have made further progress in vaccine research. This fully reflects the institutional advantages of our country.

We now have one recombinant adenovirus vector vaccine and four inactivated vaccines, which have been approved successively by the NMPA. As the NMPA has innovated its emergency approval procedure, we have been able to carry out the clinical trials of phase I and phase II simultaneously. So far, 2,575 volunteers have been vaccinated. Phase I includes 539 volunteers, some of whom have provided preliminary safety and protective antibody data. The other 2,036 volunteers in phase II are participating in the whole process of vaccination and the evaluation of safety and effectiveness. Volunteers will take two or three injections during the entire process of vaccination. We have not received reports of major adverse reactions up to now, and if all goes well, we will complete the clinical trials of phase II in July as planned. 

In addition to the adenovirus vector, we have also pushed ahead with other technical routes of vaccine research and development in a smooth and orderly manner. Some of them have been adjusted quickly when they were found to have unsatisfactory effects, as the research on this vaccine is both a scientific exploration and a skilled technique. Those institutions that have made rapid progress have started to continually submit application materials, such as pharmaceutical research, preclinical research and clinical trial schemes to the Center for Drug Evaluation under the NMPA. It is expected that some projects will be approved by the NMPA from June and will then enter the clinical trial stage. This is the overall situation. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

The last question, please.

Economic Daily:

We know that the epidemic prevention and control steps have now become a regular practice, and the economic and social order is recovering. The public is very concerned about when hospitals could resume their normal diagnosis and treatment work. Can you share with us the details of this? Thank you.

Guo Yanhong:

Thank you for your question. Medical institutions undertake the dual tasks of epidemic prevention and control and providing normal medical services. As epidemic prevention and control has now become a regular practice, medical institutions should focus on the following aspects in order to provide normal services again:

The first is to fully implement the requirements of early detection, early reporting, early isolation, and early treatment, especially to ensure full promotion of the role of medical institutions in the detection of cases. Medical institutions should ensure they can provide timely detection, rapid treatment, accurate control and effective treatment. 

The second is to reinforce the infection prevention and control measures in a targeted manner. In particular, medical institutions must put in place adequate zoning management, environmental ventilation, disinfection and isolation, and make comprehensive investigation of infection risks. At the same time, it is necessary to improve escort and visit management, strengthen the scientific protection of medical personnel, and implement standard preventive measures.

The third is to innovate medical service methods. The medical institutions should fully implement appointment-based treatment, and treat patients in different time periods. They should provide one-stop services by optimizing processes to reduce staff gathering and infection risks. At the same time, we must also make full use of the Internet in medical treatment and promote integration of online and offline treatment.

People's demand for medical treatment is rigid. In order to meet their needs, consideration must be given to the regular practices required for epidemic prevention and control, and the service normalization. For now, all localities are working to resume the normal state of medical services in accordance with the deployment and requirements of the NHC. Our statistics have shown that the current overall situation of medical services nationwide has recovered to a level of 85% compared to the same period last year, and in some areas, the medical service has been completely restored. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

This concludes today's press conference. Thank you all.

Translated and edited by Zhu Bochen, Huang Shan, Fan Junmei, Zhang Liying, Yang Xi, Zhang Rui, Wang Wei, Cui Can, Wang Yanfang, Xiang Bin, Zhang Rui, Gao Zhan, Wang Yiming, Li Huiru, Zhou Jing, Guo Xiaohong, Geoffrey Murray, Scott Rainen. In case of any dispute over a discrepancy, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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