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First and Youngest SARS Volunteer Tests Negative

Lan Wanli, a shy 23-year-old postgraduate at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, was recently identified as the first person to take part in trials of a potential SARS vaccine.

Lan was the youngest of 36 volunteers who took part in the world's first clinical tests of the vaccine on May 22.

Although he was the second to enter the lab that day, it has since been revealed that he was the first person to be injected -- with a placebo in his case.

Lan said he'd had many medical examinations before the injection because the research team required him to be healthy.

After the injection, Lan was put under observation for two hours in hospital. He was then required to return for four follow-up examinations before having the second injection 27 days later.

"I was given some money after each blood test to buy food so that I could recover quickly. I didn't expect that."

"I believe researchers have fully considered the safety of the vaccine. Even if I caught SARS, medical workers would give me the best care available. And even if I died after the injection, it would be for my country. I would feel honored to do my part in the fight against SARS." said Lan.

He said he had discussed taking part with friends, but not with his parents and elder sister in Weihai in Shandong Province. He was afraid they would worry unnecessarily, so only told them about it during the summer vacation when he knew there hadn't been any problems.

Lan's university had been sealed off during last year's SARS outbreak. He was isolated by the university's medical authorities as he had a fever, which turned out to be a common cold.

From then on, Lan thought of doing something to combat SARS. "I felt lonely and bored during the five-day quarantine. I began to think about how those with SARS must have been feeling really bad and isolated, in pain and with the prospect of possible death," he said.

"I just feel proud and lucky," said Lan.

(Shenzhen Daily December 9, 2004)

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