SCIO briefing on white paper 'Fighting COVID-19: China in Action'

​The State Council Information Office (SCIO) held a press conference on June 7 to brief the media on its new white paper: "Fighting COVID-19: China in Action." June 10, 2020

China Daily:

Following a series of efforts derived from the R&D for effective medicines and treatments against the COVID-19, China has formed its own anti-virus guidelines. Will China recommend its achievements abroad? How have these approaches, if they have been introduced, worked in other countries? Thank you. 

Wang Zhigang:

Medicine plays a fundamental role in ensuring people recover. Since the start of the pandemic, the R&D of drugs has been prioritized as the most critical effort and involves numerous essential projects being undertaken by more than 160 research institutes and enterprises. We commenced our efforts with "three medicines and three treatments." Specifically speaking, the three existing medicines we experimented on were supposed to take on new clinical efficacies, and the three treatments have been a combination of medical and therapeutic treatments. In different phases and trials that have been developed and refined around the principles of safety and efficacy, our scientists have worked day and night with the pharmaceutical industries which have demonstrated their strong will to join in making relevant products. In this way, we have made remarkable scientific achievements while experimenting on Resochin, favipiravir, carrimycin, tocilizumab, convalescent plasma therapy and stem cell treatment, to name just a few. Among them, 10 medicines and therapies have been included in the treatment plan. They acted as key scientific and technological approaches to save lives on the frontlines where the recovery rate has risen and mortality has fallen.  

We have taken several concrete steps in exploring the potential efficacy of existing drugs. These can be illustrated as follows: first, through the selection of medicines. By applying big data, we have filtered a wide range of medicines available on the market both based on our experience and by using a modern selective approach to identify which drugs are most likely to be effective. Second, we have conducted in vitro experiments, including cell and animal experiments, which have been followed up by small and scaled-up clinical trials before being incorporated in diagnostic and clinical treatments. Through these steps, we have identified specific medicines and recommendable treatments.

In addition to old drugs being used in new treatments, certain breakthroughs have been made in pharmaceutical research that were mentioned by both Mr. Ma at the NHC and Mr. Wang at the CAMS. First, TCM has played a vital role, which can be demonstrated by its own competence as well as by the synchronized efforts taken between it and western medicine, as the impact is indeed hard to ignore. Second, we have done a good job in taking simultaneous steps to both develop medicines and provide clinical treatments. The efficacy of medicines cannot be proven by molecular, animal and small-sized clinical experiments only — they should also be subjected to clinical trials. Only with a continuous cycle of reaction and improvement can the R&D and treatments be coordinated well. Third, interdisciplinary efforts including supercomputing, animal models and artificial intelligence have contributed significantly to selecting medicines and working on their efficacies. Fourth, the application of existing drugs for new uses has brought us some effective medicines, especially some antibody medicines for prevention and treatment, even though, they are not specific ones. Recently, a major breakthrough has been made with an antibody medicine being proven by the National Medical Products Administration and taken for clinical trials.

Regarding your question about recommending our achievements to the world, my answer is that we have been actively sharing our experiences in pharmaceutical R&D and clinical trials with other countries for them to choose whatever they find useful based on their own needs. In this aspect, we have communicated deeply with the rest of the world. As I mentioned, we have published many articles, communicated via numerous video conferences and held face-to-face meetings for exchange. Chinese research teams have published innumerable papers, shared scientific research achievements with more than 200 countries and regions, and supported international multi-center clinical trials with enterprises and relevant institutes. Notable progress has been made in view of these aspects. However, it is up to scientists and medical personnel overseas to tell whether the efforts can pay off in their countries through their practices and improvements while using our experiences. Thank you.  

Guo Weimin:

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

Translated and edited by Zhang Liying, Zhang Rui, Wang Wei, Zhang Lulu, Li Huiru, Wang Yiming, Lin Liyao, Fan Junmei, Wu Jin, Zhou Jing, He Shan, Gong Yingchun, Wang Qian, Liu Sitong, Yuan Fang, Zhu Bochen, Yang Xi, Li Xiao, Guo Yiming, Laura Zheng, Jay Birbeck, David Ball, Geoffrey Murray, Scott Rainen. In case of any dispute over a discrepancy, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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