While the threat of a resurgence of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is still there, it is reassuring to learn about the latest developments in vaccine research.
More than 1,400 vaccine shots for SARS have been produced in China, and an application for clinical tests has been submitted to the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), according to a Xinhua report on Sunday.
"If everything goes smoothly, conducting of clinical experiments will be approved before the end of December," Yin Hongzhang, head of the Biological Product Section of the SFDA, was quoted as saying.
So far, China is far ahead of other countries in the search for a SARS vaccine, claimed Yin.
At that time, volunteers will be sought in Beijing and Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, to take part in experiments using the new vaccine.
However, amid the clamour to applaud the research breakthrough, voices of reason should also be heard.
What medical workers should always maintain is a cool head and prudent attitude, which are essential in any scientific research.
This is especially true when conducting experiments on human beings, because they are directly concerned with the volunteers' health and even their lives, and also because knowledge of the deadly virus is still too limited.
Media reports indicate that members of the public are responding actively to the news of selecting volunteers and are expressing their readiness. Their courage deserves our admiration. The trust they are placing in these medical researchers is the biggest support of their work.
The researchers have no other choice but to be highly cautious in the expected experiments. The safety of volunteers should always be the first consideration.
Scientists from different countries have been put in a race in uncovering the mystery surrounding the virus. But to play a leading role should by no means be the ultimate pursuit of the scientific workers.
It is people's safety and health that remain the biggest concerns.
While there are still so many mysteries to be solved, it is too early to celebrate.
(China Daily November 25, 2003)