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China Honors Pandemic Fighters, Vows to Carry on Fighting COVID-19 Globally

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China held a meeting on Tuesday to honor role models in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 epidemic – the fastest spreading, most extensive and most challenging public health emergency it has encountered since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Renowned respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan was awarded the Medal of the Republic, the highest state honor. Zhong identified the SARS virus in 2003 and is currently leading the Chinese government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

Three other medical specialists were conferred on the national honorary title, “the People’s Hero.” The recipients are Zhang Boli, a traditional Chinese medicine expert who presided over the research of the COVID-19 treatment scheme combining traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, Zhang Dingyu, head of Wuhan’s designated coronavirus-treating Jinyintan Hospital, and Chen Wei, a military medical scientist who made major achievements in COVID-19-related basic research and development of  vaccine and protective medicine.

“Medical workers are the most beautiful angels and the most lovable people in the new era,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech after presenting the medals. “Their names and feats will never be forgotten by the nation, the people and history, and will be engraved on the monument of the republic.”

Millions of medical workers fought on the frontline against COVID-19 nationwide, including 540,000 in central China’s Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan, the hardest-hit region during the outbreak, said Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

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Joint efforts to address global challenges

Xi pledged that China will join hands with the international community to tackle the global challenges of the pandemic.

Noting that the novel coronavirus outbreak is the worst pandemic the world has seen in a century, he underscored China’s contributions in the global fight.

China has acted with “openness, transparency and responsibility” and actively fulfilled its international obligations since the start of the outbreak, he stressed.

It “voluntarily provided information about the outbreak to the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant countries and regional organizations in a most timely fashion, and released the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus at the earliest possible time,” he said.

China has conducted more than 70 exchanges with various countries and international and regional organizations on epidemic control to share its experience, Xi noted.

China has announced the decision to provide two batches of cash support totaling 50 million U.S. dollars to the WHO; it has sent 34 medical expert teams to 32 countries and offered assistance to 150 countries and four international organizations; from March 15 to September 6, the country exported 151.5 billion masks, 1.4 billion protective suits, 230 million pairs of goggles, 209,000 ventilators, 470 million testing kits and 80.14 million infrared thermometers, according to Xi.

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The pandemic has demonstrated that mankind is a community that shares weal and woe, he said, calling for solidarity and cooperation across the world to tackle the crisis.

China will continue to promote international cooperation on epidemic control, support the WHO in playing the leading role in the fight, and contribute to the building of a community of common health for mankind, he said.

China steadfast in pursuing better future

The president reviewed what measures China has taken to fight the virus and called for unity and determination throughout the nation to address challenges and achieve development goals.

Over the past seven-plus months, more than 80,000 Chinese were infected by the virus and about 4,700 people lost their lives. The numbers could have been much bigger without the firm measures implemented at various levels and sacrifices made by medical workers, community workers as well as residents who have strictly followed restrictions for epidemic control.

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“In little more than a month, the rising spread of the virus was contained; in around two months, the daily increase in domestic coronavirus cases fell to single digits; and in approximately three months, a decisive victory was secured in the battle to defend Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan,” Xi noted.

With the easing of the outbreak, China announced a series of policies to help enterprises, create jobs, boost investment and consumption and advance poverty alleviation, he said.

The world’s second-largest economy grew by 3.2 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, reversing a 6.8-percent decline in the first quarter.

“China has become the first major economy to return to growth since the start of the pandemic,” Xi said.

Looking ahead, Xi said China must continue to implement regular epidemic control measures and strive for full victory in the fight against COVID-19.

He stressed strengthening institutional guarantees for safeguarding the people’s lives and health, calling for developing a strong public health system and upgrading the system of prevention, control and treatment of major epidemics.

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He also called for intensified efforts to ensure economic growth and improve people’s livelihood, stressing that national development goals and tasks must be accomplished.

China aims to eradicate absolute poverty and complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020.

Meanwhile, Xi stressed the importance of increasing awareness of risks and sticking to bottom-line thinking and called for efforts to enhance capabilities to prevent and defuse different kinds of risks along China’s development path.

He expressed confidence in China’s future in the new era. “Nobody and no force can stop the Chinese people from achieving a better life!” Xi said.

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First Batch of Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine Lands in Serbia

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The first batch of one million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Beijing-based pharmaceutical company Sinopharm arrived in Belgrade, Serbia at 9:50 a.m. local time on Saturday.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, local officials, and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo received the consignment at Nikola Tesla International Airport in Belgrade.

Vucic said that the arrival of the vaccine is “proof of the great friendship between Serbia and China,” and it will help protect the lives of 500,000 people, adding he will also get vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine.

The vaccinations will start once the Chinese vaccine gets a final approval by Serbia’s Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices.

“As an ordinary person and the president of Serbia, I am convinced of the quality of the Chinese vaccine, which will be decided by our competent agency,” Vucic said.

Serbia has also purchased Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine as well as a jab jointly developed by America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.

The country started its COVID-19 vaccination drive late last month, and so far the country has obtained around 1.4 million doses of vaccines.

Nearly 370,000 COVID-19 infections have been reported in Serbia, while 3,708 people have died. A total of 5,409 patients are hospitalized across the country, of whom 196 have been put on respiratory ventilators.

During the pandemic, aside from providing medical supplies, China sent a medical expert team to Serbia which stayed there for months to help Serbian authorities coordinate the country’s anti-pandemic response, and the Chinese BGI group, a genome research company, also assisted the country build two “Fire Eye” testing labs.

Chinese Ambassador Chen said that Serbia and China are fighting the coronavirus side by side, and “China is the first country in the world to promise that its vaccine will be a global public good.”

“The Sinopharm vaccine was officially registered in China on December 30, and it arrived in Serbia only after 16 days. The arrival of the Chinese vaccine is part of our joint fight against the virus, and I believe it will contribute to fighting the epidemic in Serbia,” Chen said.

(With input from Xinhua)

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Infrastructure For Tomorrow: Interview With AIIB Vice President On Response To Future Challenges

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WHO Spokesperson Reveals Details Of Its Expert Team Visit To Wuhan

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Even as vaccines are rolled out, COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, having caused nearly 2 million deaths. The situation is in dire need of stronger global cooperation. That spirit can be at least reflected by the latest World Health Organization (WHO) expert team’s visit to China which will start in Wuhan, where the first cases of infections in China were reported.

“This is about understanding what happened so that the world can be better equipped as the world to prevent it happening again,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris in an exclusive interview with CGTN host Tian Wei. She stressed that the field trip is “not about finding someone to blame. Let’s leave the politics out of it.”

Dr. Harris revealed that preparations about the mission started last October. There were a few virtual meetings held since then. This trip will be about a wide variety of subjects related to the discovery research of the origins of COVID-19. While no quick answers are expected.

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The WHO team of 10 experts from 10 different countries are expected to visit the Chinese city Wuhan, where cases of infections were first reported at the end of 2019. Yet later discoveries found the presence of the virus in Spain, Italy and the U.S., demonstrating how much is still unknown about the virus.

While the world is bogged down by this pandemic, there appear a few COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have been developed at unprecedented speed. But that very fact has made people uneasy: was it developed too fast? Are those vaccines trustworthy?

“People should be concerned about the safety issues,” noted Dr. Harris, but she explained that one thing that has really slowed down vaccine development in the past was getting the funding for the studies, and this time that part got ample support.

Harris said that only after very careful review of data on issues of safety and efficacy, and visiting manufacturing factories, would the WHO put a vaccine on its Emergency Use Listing (EUL). So far only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received the validation at the end of last year, but more announcements could be made as soon as in the next few weeks, according to Harris. Among those are candidates coming from Sinopharm and Sinovac, two Chinese vaccine developers.

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The COVAX program was set up by the WHO with GAVI, the vaccine alliance, to help distribute vaccines to more countries. China joined COVAX last year.

Out of the 42 countries that are rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, 36 are high-income countries and six middle-income countries. “So there’s a clear problem that low- and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month.

“We are not happy that it’s not happening quickly enough,” said Harris, “but we determined to make it happen.”

World Insight with Tian Wei is an international platform for debate and intelligent discussion. It is the meeting point of both the highly influential and rising voices, facilitated by host Tian Wei. It provides nutrition to form your own thoughts and ideas through a 45-minute live debate and interviews.

Schedule: Monday-Saturday

Time (GMT): 1415, 2015

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)

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