The director of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention said he was injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine to encourage members of the public to follow suit by approving the vaccine.
“I will reveal something secret: I was vaccinated with one of the vaccines,” Gao Fu reported at Sunday’s online seminar.
“I hope it works,” he added.
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A private company, SinoPharm, reportedly injected the vaccine into all its employees earlier this month, although the government had not approved its tests. It was a move that health experts questioned ethically.
Gao has not said whether his vaccine injection is part of a government-approved human study.
The U.S. and the UK have struggled to defeat China by curing coronavirus using a variety of vaccines, and that would be a breakthrough scientifically and politically, as the two Western countries have recently shown signs of solidarity from the Chinese government.
China is reported to have eight of the approximately two dozen vaccines developed worldwide, mostly from all countries.
Gao did not specify which vaccine he took, but said he did so in an effort to eradicate the latest conspiracy theories that have sprung up around the scientific community.
“Everyone has suspicions about a new coronavirus vaccine,”; Gao said. “As a scientist, you have to be brave. … If even we didn’t, how to convince the whole world – all the people, the society – to get vaccinated? “
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Gao has received tremendous criticism nationally and internationally for first taking action on the coronavirus outbreak, which disappeared from the public eye until the end of April when he gave an interview to the CGTN, a state media representative.
U.S.-China relations have become increasingly tense over the past few months as a result of China’s initial response to the virus outbreak. The U.S. has repeatedly condemned China’s lack of transparency and call for action, and accuses them of worldwide deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
There are almost 16.6 million cases of coronavirus worldwide and more than 650,000 deaths from the virus. The nation most affected was the United States, with more than 4.3 million cases and almost 149,000 deaths.
The US has officially withdrawn from the World Health Organization, citing concerns about a “China-oriented” trend and accusing CEO Tedra Adhanoma Ghebreyes of being “bought” by China.
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Tedros has also repeatedly called for policies to be postponed during the pandemic to help the global community find solutions to the crisis.
Gao repeated those moods on Sunday.
“We don’t want China and the United States to be separated scientifically,” Gao said. “We have to work together.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.