Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, June 26, 2003

Major Achievements in SARS Vaccines, Drugs

Chinese scientists have made another breakthrough in the creation of a SARS vaccine, as antibodies against the virus have been discovered in monkeys after they had been injected with inactive versions of the vaccine.


China's Vice-Minister of Science and Technology Li Xueyong said Wednesday that the country has made key progress in vaccines, drugs and diagnostic kits for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The science sector had achieved significant progress, including the development of a primate infection model, said Li, who is also the deputy team leader of the science and technology group attached to the national anti-SARS command team.

The laboratory preparation for two types of inactivated vaccines had been completed and the test of inactivated vaccines on primate animals were underway successfully, he said.

Headway had also been made in diagnostic kits and genetic chips, which were being clinically evaluated, Li said.

The therapy, which combined traditional Chinese and Western medicines, had showed noticeable effects, Li said, adding that bio-protection products and bio-protection equipment had been developed and have effectively helped reduce infections by health workers.

The achievements in epidemiology research had provided a reliable base for disease control measures, he said, adding a research platform for SARS prevention, control and treatment had taken initial shape.

In particular, the assessment of P3 laboratories, featuring higher bio-safety levels, had been completed, and related construction work had been finished to meet the needs of laboratories dedicated to research of SARS prevention, control and treatment, he said.

China's anti-SARS research to address three problems
China's anti-SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) research will study SARS transmission patterns and epidemiological prevention, develop vaccines and anti-virus drugs, and develop a diagnostic kit for epidemiological investigation and clinical differentiation.

He said the national anti-SARS research sector, consisting of ten government departments, will shift its focus from urgent research and short-term goals to key problems and medium to long-term projects.

Since its establishment on April 25 this year, the research sector has initiated 95 projects involving 3,000 science and technology staff and 120 million RMB investment, and has made substantial achievements in SARS diagnosis and treatment.

As for vaccine research based on genetic technology, the China National Biological Products Corporation (CNBPC), the country's largest bio-tech company, plans to spend 500 million yuan (US$60.46 million) developing vaccines against SARS.

The first 50 million yuan (US$6 million) has been invested in the early stage of the project, according to CNBPC General Manager Wang Guoli.

The money will be spent in improving and rebuilding labs and production facilities for SARS vaccines, flu vaccines, blood treatments and other biological products, Wang said.

The company is carrying out three SARS-related research projects and has invested another 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) in developing SARS detection methods, blood serums against the virus and relevant vaccines.

Li Xueyong said China's success in fighting against SARS has partly relied on international co-operation. He noted that it took only three months to map out the genetic sequence of the SARS virus due to the joint efforts made by scientists from a host of different countries.

"We must strengthen co-operation with international partners to battle diseases and that's an important lesson we've drawn from this two-month struggle," said Li.

International co-operation would continue to be important for future vaccines and genetic research,Li stressed. He added that each country provides different strengths in SARS treatment, which are mutually complementary.

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