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A Chinese Doctor Injected Herself With an Untested Coronavirus Vaccine

Chen Wei is a world-renowned epidemiologist and a major-general in China’s People’s Liberation Army. She was at the forefront of the fight against Ebola and SARS and since mid-January, she has been stationed at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. On Tuesday, the 54-year-old, along with six members of her team, proved their…

A Chinese Doctor Injected Herself With an Untested Coronavirus Vaccine

Chen Wei is a world-renowned epidemiologist and a major-general in China’s People’s Liberation Army. She was at the forefront of the fight against Ebola and SARS and since mid-January, she has been stationed at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

On Tuesday, the 54-year-old, along with six members of her team, proved their loyalty to the Communist Party by injecting themselves with a vaccine that hasn’t even been tested on animals, in an apparent bid to show how well China is doing in combatting coronavirus.

Chen and her research team have been working for over a month at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory with the highest biosafety classification. As well as rushing to develop a vaccine, Chen’s team has been working on treatments including plasma therapy and repurposing a nasal spray that is designed to boost immunity to the virus.

Chen spoke with China’s state-run television station for a report broadcast Tuesday claiming to have made a major breakthrough in the development of a vaccine.

“We are doing all we can to put the recombinant vaccine that we are developing into clinical application,” Chen said. “We must strive to bring the vaccine we are working on to clinical trial and application, providing strong technical support for winning this battle.”

While the television report did not include footage of the injections, the PLA’s official Weibo channel subsequently shared images of Chen having the vaccine injected into her left arm. The pictures also show six other PLA members who were reportedly injected with the vaccine too.

The Weibo post has since been deleted, but the images and a screenshot of the post have been shared on other social media platforms, including Twitter.

READ: Iran’s answer to the coronavirus outbreak: Cut the internet

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The news comes just a day after President Xi Jinping visited the Academy of Military Medical Sciences where he stressed that a coordinated scientific approach was needed to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Dozens of labs around the world are racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine after a Chinese lab genetically sequenced the virus in January.

Several labs have developed prototype vaccines that are currently being tested on animals. Initial human tests are likely to begin at the earliest next month before extensive trials to test the vaccines’ effectiveness and to highlight any possible side effects. Any vaccine will also need regulatory approval before it can be given out to the public, and a widely available vaccine is not expected to be ready until early next year.

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