By Mu Lu
The recombinant vaccine for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) developed by a team led by top People’s Liberation Army epidemiologist Chen Wei was approved for clinical trials in China on Monday. This was a great move forward for China in its battle against COVID-19. We must be aware that the development of a vaccine is a battle that China cannot afford to lose.
Many countries and companies are accelerating the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Although the US has messed up its COVID-19 prevention work, it has been going ahead orderly and rapidly in vaccine development. On Monday, US researchers gave a shot to the first person in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine, ABC News reported.
The German government was reportedly offering its own financial incentives for the possible vaccine to stay in the country, after US President Donald Trump had reportedly offered German firm CureVac roughly $1 billion in exchange for exclusive access to the possible vaccine for the coronavirus.
Given the two leading Western countries’ moves, we can see there is no way for China to rely on Europe or the US in vaccine development. China has to be by itself in this crucial field, and this means a serious challenge for the country’s medical research circle.
China was the first to confront COVID-19, but the US’ rapid progress in relevant research once again reminded us that our country still has a long way to go.
We cannot solve a problem unless we realize the existence of it, and now we know what it is.
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the country has acquired experience from scratch and mastered leading technologies in various fields. The history of PRC shows that for the most, we have no option other than self-reliance.
Despite a call by Pfizer, a drug-making giant, on its peers to join hands to deal with the crisis that is overshadowing the world, China is still not really accepted by developed countries in cooperation in terms of medical research or other high-end fields. The barrier could be both ideological and political.
Take high-tech competition. Many Chinese companies – such as Huawei, ZTE, and DJI – have attained leading positions in the patents race and have developed top-notch technologies, but they are irrationally and wrongfully suppressed by Washington, which labels Beijing a rival. The competition in medical research will only be fiercer.
China has an advantage in its governance system, which enables the country to allocate resources and manpower from various spheres to focus on research and development.
In this process, both the state and the enterprises have played a vital role, and the two complement each other.
To prepare for future competitions, the Chinese government needs to further adjust its system. More favorable policies should be launched to encourage and guarantee the companies’ capability and willingness in R&D.
As for the enterprises, they should put more efforts in talent training, who will improve the companies’ R&D.
On the other hand, enterprises should keep up with international norms and promote the internationalization of their R&D outputs. The global market will be a benign test and also a good opportunity for them to make progress.
Future competition between countries will be essentially a competition of technological strength. Only by mastering advanced technologies can a country be able to hold its development and national security in its own hands. From this aspect, it is not exaggerated to call vaccine R&D a life-and-death battle.
–The Daily Mail-Global Times news exchange item