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SCIO briefing on making China a country of innovators and supporting the fostering of a new development paradigm

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The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on Feb. 26 to brief the media on issues around making China a country of innovators and supporting the fostering of a new development paradigm.

China.org.cnUpdated: March 3, 2021

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Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific research has played an important role in fighting the spread of the virus. What new progress has been made in China's research and development of vaccines and medicine? What are the long-term plans for science and technology in supporting health? Thank you.

Wu Yuanbin:

First of all, thank you very much for your question. Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the science and technology community in China has firmly implemented the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and established an MOST-led research and development team under the State Council's inter-agency task force. We have focused on the five areas of viral etiology, testing technology and products, clinical treatment and medicine, vaccine development, and animal model construction, organized scientific elite forces nationwide, and spared no efforts in promoting research breakthroughs. A series of practical and effective achievements have been secured and applied to the fight against the pandemic. From sharing virus gene sequences in a timely manner, screening effective drugs and conducting large-scale nucleic acid testing, and promoting the development and marketing of vaccines, China has demonstrated its "core anti-pandemic force" in scientific research for pandemic prevention and control.

General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that during the process of COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control, our science and technology personnel have carried out scientific research in major fields including treatment, vaccine research and development, and prevention and control measures, which has provided strong support for and made great contributions to the coordination between anti-pandemic efforts and socio-economic development. These achievements are attributed to the personal planning of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and have highlighted the strengths of China's socialist system. These outcomes have also benefitted from China's establishment of a science and technology innovation system and the overall improvement of innovation capacity. These of course would not have been secured without the efforts and struggles of our scientific researchers.

Just now you mentioned progress in the research and development of vaccines and medicine. In order to maximize the success rate of vaccine R&D, China has arranged parallel vaccine research in the five categories of inactivated vaccines, nucleic acid-based vaccines, recombinant protein vaccines, adenovirus vector vaccines, and live attenuated influenza vaccines. Currently, 17 vaccines are undergoing clinical trials and seven of them are currently undergoing phase-3 clinical trials. Four others have so far been authorized for conditional marketing, and have applied for the vaccination of key populations nationwide.

With regard to drug research and development, we started by focusing on strengthening effective drug sifting, with a total of 11 types of drugs — including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) prescriptions — included in the treatment plan. This played a significant role in clinical rescue, preventing deterioration, reducing the death rate and other aspects. The development and application of new treatment technologies, including convalescent plasma and stem cells, have achieved clear results in the treatment of severe and critically ill patients. In terms of research and development of specific drugs, we focused on promoting the R&D of neutralizing antibodies, and currently, seven single drug types and one combination drug have been approved for clinical trials.

Just now you asked about our work going forward. First, we will continue advancing scientific research into epidemic prevention and control, strengthening understanding of the epidemic trends and risk warnings, accelerating R&D of vaccines and antibody drugs, upgrading detection technologies and product inventions, and tracing virus mutations and their impact on vaccines, drugs and testing reagents, thus providing a solid scientific and technological underpinning for the pandemic control. Second, we will better align the long-term development on life and health. We will strengthen innovative capacity-building on healthcare technology, establish a scientific research system and a rapid support mechanism in preparation for both peacetime and wartime. In addition, we will focus on epidemic prevention and control, the prevention and treatment of major and severe diseases, reproductive health and aging population problems and other key fields, and make an overall plan for scientific tasks. Third, we will accelerate the addressing of shortcomings in etiology study and R&D of high-end medical equipment to better ensure people’s lives and health through scientific innovation. Thank you.

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