Top Chinese CDC official injected with coronavirus vaccine candidate

Top Chinese CDC official injected with coronavirus vaccine candidate
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The director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that he has been injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

“I’m going to reveal something undercover: I am injected with one of the vaccines,” Gao Fu said in a webinar hosted by Alibaba Health and American scientific journal publisher Cell Press, according to The Associated Press. “I hope it will work.”

Gao offered no details about the circumstances under which he took the vaccine, or whether it was in the context of a human trial with government approval. The official said he wanted to avoid “doing some kind of propaganda” for any company by identifying the manufacturer, according to the AP.

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Gao said he took the experimental vaccine to instill public confidence and tamp down conspiracy theories.

“Everybody has suspicions about the new coronavirus vaccine,” he said, according to the AP. “As a scientist, you’ve got to be brave. … If even we didn’t do it, how can we persuade the whole world — all the people, the public — to be vaccinated?”

Gao previously co-wrote a paper introducing a vaccine candidate made by growing, and killing, the virus in a lab. The vaccine candidate is currently under development by an affiliate of state-owned manufacturer SinoPharm. Thirty of the company’s employees, including several senior executives, participated in “pre-testing” of the vaccine in March, before its approval for the initial human study. Such testing, which is often not usable in final determinations of safety and efficacy, is a controversial issue among researchers, according to the AP.

Gao and China’s CDC have been under scrutiny for the agency's handling of the original coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, the AP noted, adding that Gao had largely been absent from public appearances until sitting for an interview with state media in April.