Coronavirus: Top Chinese expert Zhong Nanshan and US counterpart Anthony Fauci to discuss pandemic in public for first time

Kristin Huang
·3-min read

China’s top respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan has said he will appear with Anthony Fauci, the US President’s chief medical adviser, at an online forum in March – the first public discussion of the Covid-19 pandemic between the two.

Zhong told a press conference after a Covid-19 control event in Guangzhou on Sunday that they “share some similar views” and would discuss the pandemic at an online event hosted by a British university.

Edinburgh University announced on its website that the two would speak at the opening session of a virtual seminar on March 2 at the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

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Zhong also said he will discuss the pandemic with experts from Harvard Medical School next week.

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“If there is a turning point in the US pandemic, it would be great news for the whole world,” said Zhong, acknowledging that the Biden adminstartion has made fighting the pandemic one of its top priorities.

The US, which has the world’s highest death toll from Covid-19, has seen more than 26 million cases and over 438,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

China-US tensions have escalated since the start of the global outbreak, with the two sides trading barbs over the origins of the coronavirus and Donald Trump accusing Beijing of failing to contain the disease at the start.

Beijing has urged the new US administration to cooperate in fighting the pandemic as part of efforts to ease tensions between the two sides.

Zhong Nanshan will discuss the outbreak with Harvard University scientists. Photo: Simon Song
Zhong Nanshan will discuss the outbreak with Harvard University scientists. Photo: Simon Song

Although China has largely been successful in fighting the disease, it has recently seen a spike in cases across the country. The National Health Commission said on Sunday that January had seen 2,016 domestic cases, the highest number since March.

The country reported 73 new confirmed cases of infection on Saturday, all from the north and northeastern provinces of Hebei, Jilin and Heilongjiang – up from 36 confirmed cases on Friday.

Zhong said: “I think the situation in these three locations will be brought under control in February,” adding that strict prevention measures should reduce the infection rate by 20 to 30 per cent.

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However, Zhong still advised people to stay put and reduce gatherings during the Lunar New Year, which starts on February 12, to prevent the situation from worsening again.

Meanwhile, Xu Wenbo, director of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, told a National Health Commission briefing that more than 24 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in China so far.

He added the number of serious abnormal reactions reported was no higher than for flu vaccines.

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