Global cases of Covid-19 crossed seven million on Sunday, according to coronavirus data collected by Worldometer, as China promised to strengthen international cooperation in future clinical vaccine trials.
The confirmed global death toll from the pandemic reached at least 400,000. At least 6.9 million people have been infected across the world by the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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Health experts, however, believe that the John Hopkins tally falls short of showing the true tragedy of the pandemic and Worldometer, an online source for world statistics, showed that the number of cases had already crossed the grim 7 million mark on Sunday.
China said it will strengthen international cooperation in future Covid-19 clinical vaccine trials, building on earlier collaboration in vaccine development.
China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization.
President Xi Jinping had vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
Developing “a vaccine is still the fundamental strategy in our effort to overcome the new coronavirus,” Chinese science and technology minister Wang Zhigang said on Sunday.
But vaccine development is very difficult and takes time, he said, when asked how China would initially prioritise shots by country if and when a vaccine is found.
In a white paper released by the State Council Information Office at the news conference, the Chinese government urged global cooperation, saying the international community should resist finger-pointing and politicising the virus. It did not name any country.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has been accusing China of cover-ups and lack of transparency regarding the pandemic. The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention briefed his US counterpart by phone on the then-unknown virus as early as January 4, according to the white paper.
Meanshile, Shanghai Junshi Biosciences has started an early-stage study in China to test a potential antibody treatment in uninfected people, official paper Liberation Daily said on its online channel on Sunday.
The experimental drug, JS016, is also expected to begin human study in the US in the second quarter of this year, through collaboration with Eli Lilly and Co.
Junshi is among a few biotech firms and research institutes backed by global pharmaceutical giants to work on antibody-based therapies to help those infected with Covid-19.