A Concerted Global Fight

While combating the disease at home, China is working hand in hand with other countries and contributing its strength and wisdom to the battle against the pandemic.
by Yi Mei
Chinese medical experts pose for a picture before flying to Italy at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, on March 12, 2020. courtesy of Air China

As China sees a big drop in new COVID-19 cases, the virus has shifted to other parts of the world, with Europe becoming a new epicenter of the outbreak.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the threat of the coronavirus triggering a worldwide pandemic is now “very real.” Facing an increasingly severe situation worldwide, China is contributing to the global fight against the novel coronavirus disease while continuing to ensure its epidemic prevention and control domestically.


Returning the Favor

A friend in need is a friend indeed. China has never been alone in its fight against the virus. The international community gave the country considerable support. Leaders of over 170 countries and heads of more than 40 international and regional organizations sent messages of sympathy and support to China. Many countries, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) lent a helping hand by donating medical supplies, which played an important role in battling the epidemic.

A drop of water shall be returned with a burst of spring. China will never forget the help it received from the international community and stands ready to help other countries as much as possible.

At press time, about 590,000 pieces of medical supplies including protective suits, masks and gloves from China had flown to Italy through charter flights. Before that, China sent several teams of doctors and paramedics to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Italy and Serbia. Additionally, medical materials donated by the Chinese government, organizations and companies have arrived in countries including Japan, South Korea and France.

China has also shared many technical documents including its epidemic prevention and control measures and diagnosis and treatment plans with more than 100 countries around the world and over 10 international and regional organizations.


Communication and Coordination

“While combating COVID-19 at home, China is ready to contribute to the global response,” declared China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a regular press conference on March 11, 2020. “We will step up communication and coordination with the WHO and the international community. Exchange of information is an important part of a joint global response.”

After the COVID-19 outbreak, China shared its genetic sequence with the WHO as quickly as possible and notified other countries. With openness, transparency and a high sense of responsibility for global public health security and public wellbeing, China will continue sharing information with the international community including the WHO. China will also strive to enhance coordination and cooperation to advance joint responses at regional and global levels to curb the spread of the virus.

China has published seven editions of guidelines on COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment and six editions of guidelines on prevention and control so far, all of which have been translated into multiple foreign languages.

“All the guidelines are based on our frontline observations, collection of clinical data, laboratory findings, chest X-rays and CT scans,” explained Cao Bin, vice president of China-Japan Friendship Hospital, from the front lines in Wuhan. “From the very beginning, the Chinese government has maintained face-to-face connections with the WHO, and I introduced our clinical findings to the WHO from the first wave of cases.”

Cao also helped his American colleagues publish the first paper in the Blue Journal to explain COVID-19 to American citizens. “They told me it helped a lot,” stressed Cao.

China has held more than 20 expert seminars and remote meetings with the WHO, ASEAN, EU, APEC, African Union, CARICOM, SCO and other international and regional organizations, as well as with Japan, South Korea, Russia, Germany, France, Laos and the United States to share China’s experience and practice in preventing and controlling the epidemic through laboratory findings, epidemiologic investigations and clinical diagnosis and treatment. China and South Korea have established a joint prevention and control mechanism headed by the two countries’ foreign ministries and involving officials from departments of public health, education, customs, immigration and civil aviation, which aims to strengthen communication and coordination related to the virus.


Science-based Cooperation

China has increased cooperation with the international community on science and technology as it expands collaboration with other countries in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and testing reagents, contributing Chinese wisdom and strategies to a push for an early global victory over the virus.

The WHO R&D Blueprint lists three anti-viral therapeutics as a priority: remdesivir, lopinavir and a monoclonal antibody to this new coronavirus. Chinese doctors are leading the development of the top-two priority antivirals.

“The whole international society, including the WHO, is eager for the results of clinical trials on the Chinese mainland,” notes Cao, who also works with the trial team. “The good news is that the first trial, for lopinavir, has finished. Chinese doctors will share the results with the WHO and the international society as soon as possible.”

Cao noted that there are two trials for the drug remdesivir: remdesivir-1 and remdesivir-2. In remdesivir-1, the team included patients with mild to moderate coronavirus symptoms. Remdesivir-2 is designed for severe and critical pneumonia cases. Both trials are progressing smoothly. “As soon as we finish the trials, we will share the data with the international community,” he said.

After working in Wuhan for more than two months, Du Bin, director of the Medical ICU at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, still believes that prevention and control are the most important strategy to fight the virus because treatment is secondary while prevention and control have primary effects.

“The Chinese approach to control the epidemic may not be the only one,” admitted Du. “We saw what happened in Singapore and Japan. My colleagues and I have also learned from their experience. In each starkly different situation in terms of the number of cases and the community support system, you can adopt different approaches that may achieve similar success.”

“This is an opportunity for us to learn from each other, like how the medical community shares traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine,” Du continued. “The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people, not being identical.”

The COVID-19 outbreak is neither the first nor the last challenge for mankind. The pandemic has no borders. The right thing for the world to do is to make concerted efforts. While combating the disease at home, China is working hand in hand with other countries and contributing its strength and wisdom to the battle against the pandemic.