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Shared defense

By HU ANGANG/LI ZHAOCHEN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-09 08:09
LUO JIE/CHINA DAILY

The novel coronavirus outbreak has shown that the whole world needs public health products more than ever before.

Global public goods are public products and services that benefit people all over the world. They can benefit all mankind and even generations to come. The most typical example of a global public health good is penicillin, which has played an essential role in pandemic prevention work for several generations and is still one of the most widely used antibiotic agents.

Alexander Fleming's observation in 1928 that the mold belonging to the genus penicillium inhibited the growth of bacteria and its subsequent development and application as an antibiotic benefited people around the world. The development of penicillin antibacterial drugs saved millions of lives. They are one of the most significant achievements of scientific and technological progress in the 20th century.

The characteristics of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes mean that the world needs public health goods to fight against it. The virus is highly contagious and it has spread rapidly around the world. By July 6, the number of confirmed cases of infection worldwide exceeded 11 million, and the number of deaths from the virus had exceeded 530,000. Even when the pandemic ends, it does not mean there will not be another in the future.

Therefore, countries should not only share the development results of economic globalization but also work together in the face of a common crisis and the challenges brought to the world by various traditional and non-traditional security issues. In view of this, countries should work together to build a global community of health and provide public goods to overcome public health threats such as the pandemic.

China is willing to provide public goods to the world to help forge a community of shared health. Nowadays, one of the main reasons for the insufficient supply of global public goods is that some countries in the world have the attitude of "others are irrelevant" and the problem of "doing their own thing". China has a historical and cultural tradition of "the world should be in harmony". China has always believed that only if the world enjoys well-being can China do so, and if China acts for the common good, the world can better. All benefit from a reduction in risk of infectious disease when the incidence of the disease is reduced.

As President Xi Jinping said at the Virtual Event of the Opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly on May 18: "In fighting the virus, China has been putting the people first, for nothing in the world is more precious than people's lives. All along, China has acted with openness, transparency and responsibility. China stands for the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind and takes it as its responsibility to ensure not just the life and health of its own citizens, but also global public health."

In the process of fighting against the pandemic, China has always adhered to the people-centered development concept. In the early stage of pandemic prevention and control, it clearly put forward the overarching principle of putting people's safety and health first.

There is no doubt that the global public health security crisis is a common challenge facing mankind. In view of this, the Chinese people have always adhered to building "a community with a shared future for mankind" and actively provided public goods to the world, aiming to realize mutual benefit.

At present, according to the statistics of the World Health Organization, there are more than 120 kinds of vaccines around the world near the clinical development stage. This has not only led to international R&D competition to develop vaccines but also promoted international R&D cooperation and built a global innovation chain, product chain and market chain. China is willing to cooperate with the international community on the development of vaccines. It is therefore actively participating in international R&D activities.

It is expected that China will be the largest production country for vaccines. China will provide these urgently needed health products as a public good to the world to help it overcome the pandemic. China will also make its contribution to safeguarding the health and life of more than 7 billion people in the world and make new contribution to the development of human society.

Chinese scientists were the first to identify the virus as a novel coronavirus, and Chinese scientists were the first to share its genome sequence with the world. China has also provided the world with valuable prevention experience and treatment knowledge. Some vaccines developed in China are reaching the end of clinical trials, if they are confirmed safe and effective, they will be officially put into use in the market.

Hu Angang is a professor and the dean of the Institute for Contemporary China Studies at Tsinghua University. Li Zhaochen is a PhD student at the Institute for Contemporary China Studies. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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