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China makes coordinated efforts in COVID-19 related scientific research

Source: International Union for Science and Technology Communication| 2020-04-20 13:08:22| Author: Cao Xiuying Liu Yin Lu Zijian & China.org

Researchers subpackage 2019-nCoV detection reagents at a company in Wuqing District, north China's Tianjin Municipality, Jan. 27, 2020. The company's first batch of the 2019-nCoV detection reagent boxes for 10,000 people has been sent to Wuhan for free. [Photo/Xinhua]


Epidemic prevention and control require coordinated efforts; so does related scientific research.

Around the time of the 2020 Spring Festival, Ma Juncai, a researcher at the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Wei Qiang from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), got together to brainstorm ideas about how to develop a support system for COVID-19 related research by leveraging strengths of both sides.

The National Microbiology Data Center managed by Ma can serve as an information platform, while the National Pathogen Resource Collection Center led by Wei can provide virus strains. At the beginning of the outbreak, the two researchers started exploring ways to better contribute to the fight against the virus. Shortly after their brainstorming session, on Jan. 24, the Novel Coronavirus National Science and Technology Resource Service System was launched.

Apart from publishing information on virus strains and scientific data concerning the outbreak, the system also provides other science and technology information and resources for the prevention and control of the disease, such as methods for virus detection, genomes, and scientific literature.

The system is an epitome of coordinated services to advanced scientific research on COVID-19.

Such cooperation is not limited to within the scientific community. Relevant institutes, universities, and enterprises have also been working together to develop drugs and vaccines.

Li Hangwen, founder and CEO of Stemirna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, said, "we contacted China CDC on Jan. 16, hoping to cooperate on the development of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. "

Li recalled that a few days before the Spring Festival, Tan Wenjie, a researcher at China CDC, sent him the antigens that were expected to be produced. Based on professional analysis of the viral sequences, researchers from China CDC believed that certain sequences may evoke immune responses.

Li said that the vaccine development got off to a good start, thanks to China CDC's valuable experiences and cutting-edge analysis techniques. After they received the antigens, R&D personnel at Stemirna Therapeutics began to work around the clock. 

To address the shortage of raw materials during the Spring Festival holiday, Li mobilized all partners and suppliers of his company. 

"Learning that their supply would be used for scientific research on COVID-19, they offered to help as much as they could to facilitate our development work," Li said.

Other innovative types of vaccines are also under development through collaboration among research institutions, universities, and enterprises. For example, Xiamen University and Changchun Bcht Biotechnology Co. are cooperating on the development of a nasal drop vaccine; the Institute of Microbiology of the CAS and Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co. are working together to develop a recombinant protein vaccine; the Academy of Military Medical Sciences is cooperating with CanSinoBIO on the development of an adenovirus vector vaccine.

After the virus broke out, China's scientific community has carried out close and fruitful cooperation and shared the latest progress with other countries in a timely manner.

China was quick to share the whole genetic sequence of the virus with the world, winning praise from the global scientific community. The country's efforts toward sharing information and progress have never stopped.

China's Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Health Commission, and other departments jointly built the COVID-19 Academic Research Communication Platform, which has become an important channel for worldwide scientific personnel to communicate the latest findings.

China has shared its guidelines for COVID-19 prevention and control, as well as diagnosis and treatment plans, with 180 countries and over 10 international and regional organizations.

Many Chinese enterprises and research institutions are cooperating with their foreign counterparts on the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

China has translated all policies, management manuals, and clinical guidelines related to makeshift hospitals into the languages of countries facing rapidly growing COVID-19 outbreaks. 

As the fight against the virus continues, researchers are working tirelessly at laboratories and wards to pursue scientific breakthroughs, which will undoubtedly play a major role in overcoming the pandemic.

(You can also read this English article at: http://www.china.org.cn/china/2020-04/20/content_75953343.htm)

Editor:余昊原

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