Development of novel coronavirus drugs achieves initial progress

By Qiu Chaoyi, People’s Daily
Initial progress has been achieved in drug development of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, said the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of China’s State Council at a press conference held Thursday, February 13.
According to Wu Yuanbin, an official in charge of technology in social development with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Chinese scientists have successfully established animal models of novel coronavirus infection and are accelerating the development and application of fast onsite diagnostic reagents.
Positive progress has been achieved in screening drugs and making therapeutic schemes, said Wu, adding that inactivated vaccine, nucleic acid vaccine and recombinant vaccine are currently under research and development. The official noted that bats are most likely the source of the novel coronavirus.
On Jan. 20, the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council established a scientific research panel, Wu introduced, adding that the MOST collaborated with 12 departments and ministries and established an expert panel headed by academician Zhong Nanshan.
Zhang Xinmin, director of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development, MOST told the press conference that based on multiple rounds of candidate screening, the scientific research panel is now focusing on a batch of drugs including Resochin, Remdesivir and Favipiravir as they have shown positive effects in clinical treatment.
It is introduced that the scientific research panel has organized studies on new technologies and products for treating patients in severe conditions, including the sampling of plasma of cured patients. Eleven patients in severe conditions from multiple hospitals received plasma treatment, and their conditions showed large improvement without obvious side effects. Besides, the panel has conducted clinical studies of stem cell technology which also showed safe and effective results on severely ill patients.
The development of vaccines is a priority of the panel’s work, and the panel is developing multiple candidate vaccines at the same time, including an inactivated vaccine, mRNA vaccine, DNA vaccine, recombinant protein vaccine and virus vector vaccine.
The panel is making its work as precise as possible, said Zhang, adding that some vaccine varieties are currently undergoing animal testing.
The safety of the vaccines comes first, and the development must follow scientific laws and strict regulations, Zhang explained, calling on the society to allow more time for the scientists.

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