Scientists often take the decision of testing medicine on their own body before releasing it for the public. In one such similar incident, the Head of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed to have been injected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
While Gao Fu, China's CDC head, refused to reveal which Coronavirus vaccine he was injected with, he said he was hopeful that it would work. "I'm going to reveal something undercover. I am injected with one of the vaccines," he said during an Alibaba Health, a part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, webinar which was co-hosted by Cell Press, a U.S. based medical journal on Sunday, July 26.
However, Gao refused to reveal the name of the vaccine he was injected with, claiming that he didn't want to be seen as "doing some kind of propaganda" for a company, Associated Press reported.
The reason for the brave step, he believed, was to instill confidence in people as there had been growing concerns and conspiracy theories related to the Coronavirus vaccine.
"Everybody has suspicions about the new coronavirus vaccine. As a scientist, you've got to be brave. If even we didn't do it, how can we persuade the whole world — all the people, the public — to be vaccinated?" said Fu.
Although he didn't disclose if he took the vaccine candidate as a part of government-approved human trial, the webinar's moderator, Andrew Rennekamp, one of the editors at Cell described it as a bold step. "This is a brave thing to do, and it shows his faith in what he believes is the safety of the vaccine and his commitment to the science and to public health," he said.
Fu, who has been under fire for the initial handling of the Coronavirus outbreak, said that it was unlikely that the virus originated in the Huanan wet market or a Wuhan lab. However, China has also been accused of delaying the release of information to the World Health Organization.
China Leading Vaccine Race
This comes after AP revealed that SinoPharm, a state-owned Chinese biotechnology company, injected its employees including top executives with an experimental "inactivated" COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month.
SinoPharm, which is one of the leading companies in the COVID-19 vaccine race, has been conducting Phase III of human trials. The company said that 30 employees volunteered to be injected even before the SinoPharm received permission from the Chinese government. During its trials, SinoPharm vaccine reported an overall 97.6 percent antibody-positive conversion rate.
Another Chinese company, Sinovac is also in Phase III trials. The company's vaccine, named CoronaVac, entered Phase III trial in Brazil earlier this month.
In China, over a dozen of Coronavirus vaccine trials are underway. One among them has already been given to the Chinese military. The vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, being developed by CanSino Biologics, has reportedly shown promise as it has been able to produce a strong immune response.
However, China doesn't have a great history of dealing with vaccines. In 2018, Chinese authorities had to recall batches of DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccines for children as it was deemed ineffective.