- Chinese health officials approved the use of human beings in experiments the same day Americans started their own trials.
- Russia also announced that it has started testing a vaccine on animals with results expected in June.
- More than 16,000 people have died worldwide from Covid-19, according to Worldometers.
China started the first clinical trial to test a vaccine against the new coronavirus, at a time when several countries are in a race to find effective treatment against the virus, the official press reported today. One hundred and eight volunteers, divided into three groups, received their first injections on Friday, according to the official English language newspaper Global Times.
The volunteers are between 18 and 60 years old, and all come from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected in December. Chinese health officials approved the use of human beings in experiments, on March 17. The same day, their American colleagues conducted the first test of a vaccine for Covid-19, with 45 adult volunteers. Chinese volunteers will be followed for six months.
There is currently no approved vaccine or treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The test announcement comes at a time of renewed tensions between the United States and China over the pandemic. American President Donald Trump accuses Beijing of being partially responsible for the spread of the “Chinese virus,” a term repeatedly used by Trump and strongly condemned by the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In an editorial, the Global Times stressed last week that “developing a vaccine is a battle that China cannot lose.” Also, last week, multinational pharmaceutical companies pledged to supply a vaccine against Covid-19 “anywhere in the world,” in an estimated time between 12 and 18 months, at least.
Russia also announced that it has started testing a vaccine on animals. The first results will be known in June. The new coronavirus, responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, has already infected more than 324,000 people worldwide.
Covid-19: More than 15,000 Dead Worldwide
More than 16,000 people have died worldwide from Covid-19, according to Worldometers. Most of the deaths have occurred in Europe. More than 373,000 cases have been reported in more than 174 countries and territories since the epidemic began.
With 6,077 deaths, Italy is the country most affected ahead of China (3,270), the initial focus of the pandemic, and Spain (2,207). Europe is also the continent where the pandemic is progressing most rapidly. Italy, which recorded its first coronavirus-related death at the end of February, recorded 601 additional deaths, and 4,789 new cases, for a total of 63,927. The good news is 7,432 people have recovered from the virus, according to Italian authorities.
Mainland China, where the epidemic started at the end of December, accounted for a total of 81,093 cases, with 39 new cases since Sunday. Nine more people have died of the virus, and 72,703 people have recovered.
The countries most affected after Italy and China are Spain (33,089 cases), Iran (23,049 cases, 1,812 deaths), France (19,856 cases, 860 deaths), and the United States (41,883 cases, 507 deaths). The Czech Republic, Nigeria, and Montenegro recorded their first deaths related to the virus on Sunday, and Papua New Guinea and Syria have registered their first cases.
Europe recorded the most cases and deaths, by continent or region, followed by Asia, North America, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Oceania.