The director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said he had been injected with the experimental coronavirus vaccine, to encourage members of the public to follow suit once the vaccine was approved.
“I’m going to reveal some undercover: I’m injected with one of the vaccines,” Gao Fu said Sunday in a webinar.
“I hope it works,” he said.
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The private firm, Sinpharma, allegedly injected a vaccine to all of its employees earlier this month, although it was not approved for testing by the government – a move ethically questioned by health experts.
Gao did not reveal whether his vaccine injection was part of a government-approved human trial.
The US and the UK are working on various vaccines so that China gets treatment for coronovirus, a move that would be a victory scientifically and politically as both Western countries have shown recent signs of solidarity against the Chinese government.
Eight of the two dozen vaccines are being developed globally in China, which are outside any country.
Gao did not reveal which vaccine he took, but said he did so in an effort to put an end to recent conspiracies that have arisen around the scientific community.
“Everyone has doubts about the new coronovirus vaccine,” Gao said. “As a scientist, you want to be brave. … Even if we did not do this, how can we vaccinate the whole world – all people, the public?
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Gao received staunch criticism nationally and internationally for his initial handling of the coronovirus outbreak, which disappeared from the public eye by the end of April when he gave an interview with CGTN, a state-run media outlet.
US-China relations have become increasingly tense over the past several months, showing how China initially controlled the virus outbreak. The US has repeatedly condemned China’s lack of transparency and calls for action and blamed them for the global death caused by the coronovirus epidemic.
There are approximately 16.6 million coronovirus and more than 650,000 deaths from the virus worldwide. The United States has been the most affected nation, with more than 4.3 million cases and approximately 149,000 deaths.
The US formally withdrew from the World Health Organization citing concerns over “China-centric” tendencies and accused Director General Tedros Adholm Ghebayeus of having been “bought out” by China.
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Tedros has also repeatedly called for politics to be isolated during the pandemic in order to work as a global community to find solutions to the crisis.
Gao echoed these sentiments on Sunday.
“We don’t want to separate China and the US scientifically,” said Gao. “We have to work together.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.