In late March, China kicked off the first phase of clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of its newly developed vaccine for the coronavirus.
Chinese scientists have created coronavirus-resistant transgenic mice that can be used to test vaccines and drugs against COVID-19, Mi Jidong, chief executive of the Beijing-based biotechnology company SinoGene, said on Friday.
He explained that ordinary animals are immune to the corona, so using the methods of cloning and editing the genome makes it possible for scientists to transplant the human gene (hACE2) into genetically modified creatures.
According to him, the genetically engineered mice for testing a COVID-19 vaccine were created on 23 June as part of a joint project involving SinoGene, SPF Beijing Biotechnology, and several other companies.
The company also signalled a readiness to boost the process of making transgenic mice in order to support research work aimed at combating the coronavirus.
Mi’s remarks come after China in June refuted accusations of being behind attempts to sabotage COVID-19 vaccine development in western countries, asking Rick Scott, a US senator who made such claims, to show proof.
The spokesperson recalled Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge that after being developed and deployed, China’s COVID-19 vaccine “will be made a global public good”.
“This will be China’s contribution to enhancing vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries”, Hua pointed out.
Clinical trials of the first vaccine developed in China began in mid-March, with 108 volunteers taking part in the tests. The vaccine was developed by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences in cooperation with the biotech firm CanSino Bio.
The trials followed the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on 11 March after the disease, which originated in China’s Wuhan last December, shifted to Europe and beyond. As of Thursday, there have been more than 11.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, with more than 545,000 fatalities, according to the WHO’s latest estimates.
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