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SARS Vaccine Enters Testing

A SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) vaccine has been developed and is entering a preliminary clinical testing period, the Ministry of Science and Technology has confirmed. Some 30 people have already volunteered to be the first test subjects.  

After nine months continual effort, the vaccine passed a State Food and Drug Administration evaluation, said Li Xueyong, vice minister of science and technology and also deputy director of the national SARS vaccine technical group.


The first phase test aimed to see if it was safe and effective on the human body.


The clinical study will involve production of a SARS vaccine by killing the virus with heat, the official said.


Scientists hope that testing the vaccine on volunteers will not cause SARS, but instead work to make the human body immune to the disease.


The move is a milestone in the country's anti-SARS efforts, Zheng Youyu, director of the State Food and Drug Administration, said, but it would still take time to make the vaccine marketable.


The vaccine was found safe in experiments on animals, including the rhesus monkey, said Zheng. Since last year's outbreak of SARS, Chinese scientists had worked strenuously to find an anti-SARS vaccine, said Li. The ministry had mobilized all resources to support the research.


On Monday the latest Guangdong SARS patient, a 35-year-old private businessman, was still hospitalized but had a normal temperature for 13 consecutive days.


"None of the people in contact with him has developed a fever or shown other abnormal symptoms,'' he said.


No new SARS cases were reported in the 24 hours from 10 am Sunday to 10 am yesterday on the Chinese mainland, according to the ministry's daily SARS report.


So far, China has reported three diagnosed SARS cases this year, all from Guangdong.


The other two cases, a 32-year-old TV producer and a 20-year-old waitress, have been discharged from hospital earlier this month.


All three cases appeared to be milder than those in the SARS outbreak last year. Experts with the World Health Organization said the three patients all recovered quickly and had low infection levels.


Across the nation, stricter disease prevention measures are being made during the holidays of Chinese traditional Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, Ministry of Health officials said Monday.


A smooth and efficient epidemic reporting system will continue to be maintained along with the daily SARS monitoring report during the festival season, a spokesman said.


(China Daily January 20, 2003)

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