The director of the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said he had been given an injectable experimental coronavirus vaccine to encourage members of the public to participate in the application after the vaccine was approved.
“I will reveal something undercover: I am being given one of the vaccines,” Gao Fu said at a webinar on Sunday.
“I hope it works,” he added.
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Private firm SinoPharm reportedly made the vaccine a vaccine for all its staff earlier this month, although it was not approved for testing by the government, a move that medical experts have questioned.
Gao did not say whether his vaccine injection was part of a government-approved trial.
The United States and Britain have worked on various vaccines to help China find a cure for the coronavirus that would be scientifically and politically advantageous, as the two Western countries have shown the latest signs of solidarity against the Chinese government.
China has eight of about two dozen vaccines being developed worldwide, the most from any country.
Gao did not specify which vaccine he took, but said he did so in an attempt to dispel recent conspiracy theories around the scientific community.
“Everyone suspects a new coronavirus vaccine,”; Gao said. “As a scientist, you have to be brave.… Even if we didn’t, how can we convince the whole world to vaccinate – all people, the public?”
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Gao was heavily criticized nationally and internationally for his initial treatment of the coronavirus outbreak, disappearing from public view by the end of April when he gave an interview to CGTN, the state media.
Over the past few months, relations between the United States and China have become increasingly strained as China copes with the outbreak. The United States has repeatedly condemned the lack of transparency in China and called for action and blamed it for the global death toll caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 16.6 million cases of coronavirus and more than 650,000 deaths from the virus have been reported worldwide. The United States was the hardest hit, with more than 4.3 million cases and nearly 149,000 deaths.
The United States has officially withdrawn from the World Health Organization, expressing concern over China-oriented trends and accusing CEO Tedros Adhanom Gebreyes of being “bought” by China.
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Tedros has also repeatedly called for the removal of policies during the pandemic to work as a global community to find solutions to the crisis.
Gao repeated these sentiments on Sunday.
“We don’t want China and the United States to be scientifically divided,” Gao said. “We have to work together.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.