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Chen Wei, “The People’s Hero”

Updated: Jun 18, 2022

By Emma Ferraro

February 10, 2022

UPDATED 12:00 AM

[Image source: CGTN]


Chen Wei, a Chinese military medical scientist, has helped substantially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.


On January 23, 2020, China locked down the city of Wuhan in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak after seeing high transmission rates amongst the population. At this point, very little information was available about the infectious virus. Courageously, Wei arrived in Wuhan to focus on the development of a prospective vaccine. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the official state press agency of the People’s Republic of China, Wei “cut her black hair short for the convenience of working in a protective suit. After months of intense lab research and on the frontline battle against the virus, some of her hair turned grey.” Her commitment and dedication to this critical cause was evident from the start.


Wei’s team developed an adenovirus vector vaccine within the first few months of COVID-19’s global presence, before the virus was declared to be a full-blown pandemic. On March 16, 2020, the team’s vaccine began phase-one clinical trials―the first in the world to reach this stage. The data published by the medical journal, The Lancet, verified that all 108 vaccinated participants of the trial produced antibodies. These trials proved to produce an extremely effective vaccine as they had reached the desired result in each and every one of their participants.


Additionally, instead of gatekeeping the testing methods and indicators to her team of scientists, Wei released such information to assist fellow researchers, allowing other countries to take fewer detours in their research. By adopting this path, Wei has helped promote global vaccine research―which, to her, is no new feat. In fact, Wei’s team developed a nasal spray that helped protect medical staff against SARS viruses in 2003. She generated even more success within the epidemiology field with a 2014 Ebola vaccine.


In July of 2020, Wei released the data for her COVID-19 vaccine in phase-two clinical trials, deeming the vaccine to be safe and effective at last.


Months later in February of the following year, Wei released the data of her team’s vaccine after phase-three trials. These trials were conducted in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, where a total of approximately 40,000 subjects had participated. The results indicated that Wei’s vaccine “had a 65.7% efficacy in preventing moderate symptoms of COVID-19, and 91% efficacy in preventing severe disease” (Wikipedia). Her team’s vaccine coined the name Convidecia, and is approved for use in some Asian, European, and Latin American countries.


As an immensely hardworking and tenacious woman in the field of epidemiology and virology, Chen Wei was granted the Chinese national honorary title, “The People’s Hero,” and continues to assist not only her country, but the world with her research.



References

"Chen Wei (medical Scientist)." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 23 Jan. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Wei_(medical_scientist). Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

"Chen Wei: She-power Behind China's First COVID-19 Vaccine." 404, Aug. 0909, news.cgtn.com/news/2020-09-08/Chen-Wei-She-power-behind-China-s-first-COVID-19-vaccine-TBRo0hoJEc/index.html.

"Profile: Chen Wei, Military Medical Scientist Marching Toward Vaccine - Xinhua | English.news.cn." 新华网_让新闻离你更近, www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-09/08/c_139353338.htm.



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