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Drug firm ramps up R&D to aid fight

By Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-22 07:27
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An engineer adjusts an X-ray imaging system that can be used to help fight novel coronavirus in Wuhan, at a medical equipment manufacturing company in Shenyang, Liaoning province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Sinopharm, the largest State-owned healthcare company in China, is ramping up research and development efforts and increasing medical supplies for prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The company, also known as China National Pharmaceutical Group Co, is currently leading one of its subsidiaries-China National Biotech Group Co Ltd-to work on blood plasma therapies to treat the novel coronavirus patients.

According to the company, at present, blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19 has been successfully used for the treatment of 10 severely infected patients.

"We are also working around the clock to develop inactivated vaccines. The group's Wuhan subsidiary in Hubei province is currently cultivating the virus, while the Beijing subsidiary is building the virus seed stock together with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention," said Yang Xiaoming, chairman of CNBG.

The National Vaccine and Serum Institute, an affiliate of CNBG that is developing a genetically engineered vaccine for the virus, has completed the gene sequence synthesis, and is taking the next steps, including construction of a recombinant plasmid and selection of engineering bacteria.

Shanghai GeneoDx Biotech Co Ltd, another affiliate of CNBG, has taken the lead in developing nucleic acid detection kits, which were offered to the centers for disease control and prevention at all levels for frontline detection.

Meanwhile, traditional Chinese medicine produced by the company has also been able to cure more and more COVID-19 patients. Guangdong Yifang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, a holding subsidiary of Sinopharm Group China Traditional Chinese Medicine Holding Co Ltd, recently worked out a TCM prescription, namely Toujie Quwen Granule, to treat the epidemic.

The prescription had demonstrated obvious effects in relieving clinical symptoms. Data from the Medical Products Administration of Guangdong province showed that by Jan 31, among the 50 confirmed mild cases in Guangzhou 8th People's Hospital that had adopted the prescription, all of the patients had regained normal body temperature, and their symptoms were relieved generally.

By Feb 17, the company had donated over 20,000 packs of Toujie Quwen Granule to 10 hospitals in Hubei and one hospital in Zhejiang. The production capacity for the prescription was sufficient, and there were at least 800,000 packs of raw material that were ready for production. As soon as there is demand, the company will take action to ensure supply, it said.

Ren Hongbin, deputy director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, said that in the fight against the epidemic, State-owned enterprises are actively engaged in the front-line, taking the lead in fully supporting the prevention and control of the epidemic.

He noted that in the last two weeks, the commission had taken various measures to ensure important medical supplies, and a major measure was overseas purchase of medical materials.

Using the overseas advantages of major national purchase platforms, including Sinopharm, the country is actively purchasing medical supplies such as protective clothing, safety goggles, masks and gloves from home and abroad. The medical supplies will be collected and allocated by the nation in a unified manner, Ren said.

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