China: How Sichuan Monkeys Helped Humans Develop a ‘Vaccine’ for SARS (31.11.2003)

A Monkey is Gently Disinfected

(Translation & Research by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

Translator’s Note: I come from a family of avid Animal Rights campaigners and generally do not support experiments upon animals carried-out for the business or cosmetic industries. I also oppose capitalist farming methods which hurt animals in a bid to increase and maximise profits for greedy humans. However, I also oppose the rabid anti-China racism which infects the political left and right with equal vigour in the West! In this ‘Socialist’ medical experiment, the animals were treated with respect, and each provided a vaccine for SARS which has prevented untold millions of humans from being infected! This is the story of those brave monkies! ACW (9.2.2020)

Editor’s note: In order to develop the “human SARS virus inactivated vaccine” as soon as possible, a “SARS vaccine animal experiment” was conducted in secret at the Experimental Animal Centre of Wuhan University. On November 2, our reporter Chen Yong (陈勇) was admitted, “fully protected” and conducted interviews throughout. This was the only journalist allowed in the P3 Lab. On the 19th, the experiment was declared a complete success. After 4 days of “isolation” on the 23rd, Chen Yong returned to the Editorial Department of the newspaper. In 22 days, Chen Yong witnessed the whole process of animal experimentation. He took the following testimony in those unforgettable days and nights spent in the “P3 laboratory”. 

In May, Chinese scientists raced to launch a SARS vaccine development experiment, and they found that the lack of a large enough biosafety protection level III (“P3”) animal laboratory seriously hindered the progress of this vaccine development. At this time, the National Science and Technology Research and Development Team for the Prevention and Treatment of Atypical Pneumonia brought exciting news from Wuhan: Wuhan University had just completed construction of a large-scale P3 animal laboratory that can safely conduct experiments with up to 20 monkeys at the same time.On May 28, more than a dozen experts from the scientific and technological research team relocated to Wuhan. 

Seeing Wuhan University’s “P3” animal laboratory (which was built through the self-financing of 20 million yuan) took 2 years to complete, with experts agreeing that this is the largest animal laboratory in China with such complete facilities.The science and technology research group immediately decided to stop any other experiments and expand the larger P3 animal laboratory to serve the national SARS research programme.In April this year, the Management Committee of the New Medicine Development Fund of the China Medical Foundation raised 150 million yuan to organize the Beijing Watson Gene Technology Co., Ltd., the Beijing Pu Shikang Technology Development Centre, the Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection, the Quarantine Bureau, the Air Force Aviation Medicine Experts from the Research Institute, together with the Beijing Biosid Biotechnology Development Centre (and other units) which jointly developed the “inactivated vaccine for human SARS virus”. In September, the vaccine had progressed through small animal experiments. Ding Ruoyu (丁若愚), the deputy director of the management committee, came to Wuhan University and, after seeing the conditions of the Experimental Animal Centre and the multidisciplinary advantages of the medical school, commissioned the Wuhan University Medical School to carry out a monkey body experiment for the SARS vaccine. 

The Wuhan University Medical College immediately agreed to cooperate. Deputy Dean Sun Lihua (孙理华) told reporters that this development was not without its concerns at the time. After all, the SARS vaccine animal experiment was very risky and difficult. In Wuhan, none of the insurance companies were willing to cover the experimental staff. “However, if we do not accept this project and there are no such standard laboratories elsewhere in the country, the development of ‘human SARS virus inactivated vaccine’ will have to be suspended. SARS is the enemy of all human beings. In order to make the SARS vaccine available soon, this duty is Inescapable!” 

On the evening of October 13, 18 rhesus monkeys from Sichuan arrived secretly at the Experimental Animal Centre. Previously, 23 experts had been selected from various departments of the Medical College of Wuhan University and prepared to live in the quarantine area. The experimenters injected the monkeys with the SARS vaccine at three doses: low, medium, and high. This was to prepare to inject them with the SARS virus. 

November 5 was the day to involve the monkeys. Underwear, isolation clothing, protective clothing, three-layer gloves, two-layer masks, disposable isolation clothing, protective glasses, breathing masks, deep rain boots … When entering the contaminated area, the monkey-handlers were fully prepared. At 11 o’clock, when the SARS virus was taken out of the -85 ° C refrigerator, the atmosphere in the room suddenly became tense. Although it was still contained in a stainless-steel thermos flask, because it was the first time such a close contact with SARS virus had occurred, Dr. Wenjin Wei (魏文进) carefully carried the thermos flask, holding the bottom of the bottle with his left hand, and moving his feet very slowly and carefully. The SARS virus was dispensed into a biosafety cabinet in room 307 and used to fill 14 syringes. 

As the monkeys are treated with the utmost respect, their day had been happy with amply food, water and drink. Experts played with these monkeys and relaxed them. The next stage at this time was for two further experts to approach one monkey at a time in a sealed room, where one would hold the monkey and apply the required anaesthesia, whilst the other administered the SARS injection in the trachea. Despite many difficulties (including the death of some monkeys) the SARS vaccine was tested and confirmed as both effective and safe for the next stage of testing upon humans. The monkeys proved very intelligent and it was sad that some died and the others had to be experimented upon. However, China has a policy of ‘respecting’ every animal that is sacrificed in the name of human safety and progression.

Original Chinese Language Article:

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