The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Gao Fu on Tuesday disclosed that he has been injected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in a bid to persuade the public to follow suit once the vaccine is approved.
According to a news report by Associated Press (AP), a government-owned Chinese company had earlier administered trial shots in March, before human testing had been approved, and had to face heavy criticism from experts raising ethical concerns.
During a webinar hosted by Alibaba Health, an arm of the Chinese e-commerce giant, and Cell Press, an American publisher of scientific journals on Sunday, Gao said: “I’m going to reveal something undercover: I am injected with one of the vaccines. I hope it will work.”
However, the Chinese official did not specify whether he was injected as part of the government-approved human testing. He declined requests for a comment.
Declining to say which of the vaccines he was injected with, Gao said that he didn’t want to be seen as “doing some kind of propaganda” for a particular company.
“The claim underscores the enormous stakes as China competes with US and British companies to be the first with a vaccine to help end the pandemic — a feat that would be both a scientific and political triumph,” the report underscored.
When almost the entire world struggles to find an effective vaccine for prevalent coronavirus, China has positioned itself to be a strong contender.
At least eight of the nearly two dozen potential vaccines in various stages of human testing worldwide are from China, the most of any country, the report added.
Chinese state media have also reported that employees of state-owned companies going abroad are being offered injections of the vaccine.
The Chinese official said that he took the injection to inculcate public confidence in vaccines, especially amid a tide of rising mistrust that has fueled conspiracy theories and attacks on scientists regarding the ongoing trials of vaccines.
“Everybody has suspicions about the new coronavirus vaccine,” Gao said. “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?”