Medical expert predicts early arrival of COVID-19 vaccines

Li Qian
Many COVID-19 vaccines will be released worldwide over the next few months, according to Dr Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai's expert team for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Li Qian

Many COVID-19 vaccines will be released worldwide over the next few months, according to Dr Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai’s expert team for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Globally, China has been leading the race to develop COVID-19 vaccines, but it's not widely known because domestic vaccine developers are conducting phase-III clinical trials in overseas countries. That's because China has done such an amazing job of controlling the spread of the virus and there lacks participants.

China's domestically-developed vaccines are now seeking approval for market release, said Zhang, also the director of infectious disease department of Huashan Hospital.

“If phase-III clinical trials come with good results, personally, I think vaccination is necessary,” said Zhang in a lecture held over the weekend at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

“Chinese vaccines will be possibly be available on the market by the end of this year or early next year. But it may need to wait until the end of next year to have imported vaccines in the domestic market.”

Zhang said it’s hard to say which vaccine is better when there is a lack of data, but he’s optimistic about Chinese vaccines.

“Chinese vaccines have been used on nearly 1 million people for emergency measures, and no one has reported getting infected,” he said. “For those with high risk to infection, they can choose to apply for vaccination now.”

Recent cases in Kashgar and Shanghai have all been traced to shipping containers from overseas. Protective measures should be kept in place, he stressed. Pudong International Airport can arrange for workers with high risks to receive vaccination, Zhang said.

He also pointed out the importance of disinfecting non-cold-chain transportation in winter.

“The coronavirus can survive for a long time under low temperatures, even minus four Celsius degrees,” he said.

But people don’t need to panic about making purchases of imported goods, he added.

“Just throw the package in litter bins or put the parcels on a balcony," he said. "Coronavirus can die after several hours of exposure to sunshine."

Another major concern in recent days is the possibility getting flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Such cases were detected very early in the first round of the outbreak.

For those who planning trips in the holiday season, they should follow rules to wear masks, wash hands frequently and keep social distances.

“Except for medium- and high-risk areas of coronavirus infection, people can travel anywhere in China,” he said.

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