"Scientific international cooperation has never been more important than it is today", said Professor Zhang Yaping, Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), at a video-conference between CAS and the Mérieux Foundation on May 7, 2020, which was specially called to discuss the scientific response to COVID-19.

The meeting was intended to share information about COVID-19 and explore potential scientific collaboration opportunities to defeat the virus.

CAS launched a special COVID-19 Emergency Prevention and Control Project at the outset of the epidemic. The combined efforts of 396 teams from CAS, involving over 2,600 researchers, have resulted in significant progress and science-based innovations for epidemic prevention and control work.

"CAS scientists isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus early on in the epidemic and have developed about 18 kits for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in cooperation with diagnostic companies. CAS has instigated research on four different types of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines - mRNA, Adenovirus Vector, Recombinant DNA protein and Inactivated viral vaccines. Drugs screened by CAS such as Hydroxychloroquine, Tocilizumab and Tanreqing have been included in China’s National Diagnosis and Treatment Guidelines for COVID-19," said Professor Xu Tao, Director-General, CAS Bureau of Frontier Sciences and Education.

Professor Yuan Zhiming, Director-General of the Wuhan P4 Laboratory and also President of the CAS Wuhan Branch mentioned their laboratory “played an important role in the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the result of the early deployment of China and France”. He also emphasized some of the vicious accusations and rumors about the virus’s origins were completely unfounded.

Mr. Alain Mérieux, President of Mérieux Fondation said that after four months of the COVID-19 pandemic that has profoundly affected the entire world, it is crucial today to reinforce medical and scientific collaborations between China and France and also with other countries because epidemics can only be fought through global and long-term approaches. He congratulated Chinese scientists on their achievements in vaccine and antiviral drugs development, which will greatly benefit the Chinese population and also the rest of the world.

Mérieux Fondation will continue to support partnerships like the regional infectious disease surveillance "Great Mekong project", that is particularly relevant after the COVID-19 crisis.

"I assisted the Wuhan P4 laboratory to carry out certification work, so that it could continuously meet the updated Chinese and international standards," said Mr. René Courcol, international technique expert for quality assurance in Wuhan P4 Laboratory since 2017. His work on quality control and biosafety in the laboratory is carried out under the framework of the China-France cooperation agreement on infectious diseases. He pointed out that the laboratory was approved by China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment (CNAS).

Mr. Tang Hong, Director-General of the Institute Pasteur Shanghai (IPS) and Mr. Fernando Arenzana-Seisdedos, the Co-Director, briefed the productive progress of IPS in Sino-French cooperation projects and the research progress in diagnostic test, antibodies, and vaccines. Relying on the joint support of both sides, IPS has successfully recruited several important international scientists who have been very active in the recent research work.

Both sides expressed their hope and support to further strengthen Sino-French scientific exchanges and cooperation, including the joint platform and cooperation in Southeast Asia. "Many projects needed to be carried out to achieve a brilliant, positive and useful collaboration between China and France," said Mr. Alain Mérieux.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences

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