Sat, 31 Oct 2020

A staff member displays samples of the COVID-19 inactivated vaccine at Sinovac Biotech Ltd., in Beijing, capital of China, March 16, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)

BEIJING, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- As scientists around the world are racing against time to develop COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine safety should be seen as a priority in research and development.

China values safety in the process of vaccine development. Chinese researchers have tested vaccines on various animals before clinical trials. They've also got promising results on the vaccines' safety and efficacy in phase-1 and phase-2 clinical trials and published the results in international journals, sharing information with the international community in an open, transparent, and responsible manner.

As phase-3 clinical trials are essential to evaluate the safety and efficacy of vaccines, China is ramping up efforts and pushing for international cooperation for its four vaccines that have entered phase-3 clinical trials. The phase-3 clinical trials in several countries in the Middle East, South America, and Southeast Asia are progressing smoothly.

The development of COVID-19 vaccines is a rigorous and complex procedure, facing uncertainties.

On Sept. 8, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford temporarily halted worldwide phase-3 clinical trials of their vaccine, following an unexplained illness in one trial participant in Britain. Some of the clinical trials resumed after a safety investigation.

The event drew concern on possible side effects and acted as a reminder of vaccine safety. However, some western politicians have turned a deaf ear to the wake-up call and kept politicizing the vaccine development in disregard of safety.

They made bold assertions and rolled out a set timetable for the application of vaccines to gain political advantages. They even put pressure on health experts, trying to distribute a vaccine before it is ready for use.

Instead of politics, science should play the leading role in determining whether or when a vaccine should be approved. Shortcuts in vaccine development and compromises in safety standards in favor of political purposes will undermine the public's trust in vaccines.

The development of COVID-19 vaccines should not yield to political pressure. It should stick to scientific procedures and guarantee safety, protecting public health and leading to early victory over the pandemic. ■

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