Chinese doctors have been given permission to begin human testing of a vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) soon.
The first phase of clinical study will involve production of a SARS bacterin by killing the bacterium by heating.
Scientists hope that testing the bacterin on volunteers will not cause SARS, but instead work to make the human body immune to the disease.
The mover indicated that China had taken the lead in this field, but it would still take time to make the vaccine marketable, said Zheng Youyu, director of the State Food and Drug Administration, who called it a milestone in the country's anti-SARS efforts.
The vaccine was found safe in experiments on animals, including the rhesus monkey, said Zheng. The first phase test aimed to see if it was safe and effective on the human body.
Since last year's outbreak of SARS, Chinese scientists had worked strenuously to find an anti-SARS vaccine, said Li Xueyong, Vice-Minister of Science and Technology. The ministry had mobilized all resources to support the research.
In 2003, more than 8,000 people in 32 nations and regions around the world were infected by SARS and some 900 died of the disease.
(Xinhua News Agency January 20, 2004)