Premier: Dawn of the fight against the epidemic about to appear
“We can only call it a decisive victory against the novel coronavirus epidemic when people can take off their masks," said Premier Li Keqiang, who subconsciously touched the rope on his mask.
Premier Li made the remarks while talking with experts on novel coronavirus vaccine when he inspected the emergency center for drugs and medical devices on Feb 28.
The experts told the Premier that some vaccines can be put into emergency use under a specified condition as soon as April on the premise of safety, efficiency and accessibility.
“Some people say it is impossible to develop the novel coronavirus vaccine in a short time, but your latest research has brought us hope and confidence,” said Premier Li. “Can we say that the dawn of the fight against the epidemic is about to appear?”
“Yes, it is!” the experts said.
Premier Li also watched the large-sized screen on the first floor, which demonstrated the operation situations of the platform. Currently, nine nucleic acid detection reagents and two antibody detection reagents have been approved.
One of the nucleic acid detection reagents can detect the novel coronavirus and five other respiratory diseases, while one of the antibody detection reagents can get the results in 15 minutes.
The Premier asked the experts about the current precision rate of the reagents and how many tests need to be done to make a definite diagnosis. He also asked them how to further enhance the testing ability, speed up the testing, and whether antibody detection can replace nucleic acid detection.
The experts answered that the nucleic acid detection’s precision rate can be above 95 percent theoretically. Although the daily output of China’s nucleic acid detection reagents can already meet the domestic needs, the daily detection volume is far lower than the output due to limited conditions such as the number of labs.
Premier Li urged more work to be done to develop test kits that provide shorter testing time and more precise results and are easy to use in the next step.
“Also, related equipment and personnel training should be improved for early diagnosis, quarantine and treatment as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus and increase the recovery rate,” he said.
Then on the second floor, Premier Li heard reports on the development, assessment and production of drugs against the novel coronavirus, and talked to the key project leaders.
Experts said after scientific trials and clinical explorations, some Chinese and Western medicines effective for critically ill patients have been selected into treatment plan, and some drugs are undergoing clinical trials.
Premier Li asked about the effects and safety of these drugs, and said, “people are looking forward to the medicine against the virus, and I hope you can conduct further clinical trials and select several safe and reliable drugs with significant clinical effects for medical staff and the people.”
"With effective drugs, we could do a better job in saving critical patients, lowering the death rate, and preventing patients with mild symptoms from getting worse," he added.
And experts introduced the major ongoing technological routes of five vaccines, including the inactivated, genetic engineering recombinant subunit, adenovirus vector, attenuated influenza virus vector and nucleic acid vaccine.
The Premier asked which vaccine has seen biggest progress and is estimated to be achieved first.
Considering domestic solid foundation in developing inactivated vaccines, the inactivated vaccine against the novel coronavirus is likely to enter clinical trials in April, the experts answered.
The experts said the US and some European countries are researching nucleic acid vaccines as well, and the Premier required them to strengthen international cooperation in this aspect.
The vaccine is the ultimate solution over all the measures that have been taken to prevent and control the epidemic, the Premier said.
In addition to rapid pace in vaccine development, Premier Li said, the laws of science should be respected with strict standards.
He called for face-to-face cooperation of all sides for deep and joint research, and more international cooperation, to develop the vaccine as soon as possible.
Premier Li asked related departments to closely follow up the development and production of detection reagents, drugs, and vaccines with enhanced services and supervision.
The assessment and approval should be accelerated with no compromise in standards, he added.
In addition to more support to research, Premier Li said the research results should be released in a coordinated way with authoritative and reliable information for the public.
He urged the staff members of the platform to actively fulfill their responsibilities with flexible processing of urgent matters in frontline prevention and research.
The Premier also encouraged the drug researchers and medical workers to race against time in research and treatment, to win the battle against the epidemic.