China science

China science

China launches its first Mars probe
China launched its first independent probe to Mars on Thursday, joining a growing number of countries aiming to lead exploration of Earth’s nearest neighbor. The probe, named Tianwen-1, was launched from the southern island of Hainan and is expected to reach Mars’ gravitational field next February, according to Chinese media. If the 5-tonne probe makes a successful landing on the fourth planet from the sun, it is expected to work for at least 90 Mars days – a little longer than three months on Earth. Tianwen-1 – the name means “questions to heaven” in Mandarin, inspired by an ancient poem by Qu Yuan – consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The lander and rover will attempt a soft land
Covid-19 vaccine urgent as few people have antibodies, Chinese study finds
A Covid-19 survey led by China’s top respiratory disease expert has found the country’s population immunity to be at a low level, underlining what researchers called the “urgent need” for a vaccine. The survey tested the presence of antibodies in over 16,000 people who had not fallen ill from the disease in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the pandemic, and the southern city of Guangzhou. It found only 2.14% and 0.59% of people in the respective cities had Sars-CoV-2 antibodies by the end of April. “The relatively low [level] suggests that prevention and control measures in China are effective,” wrote the researchers, led by respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan, in a letter published in the journ
Chinese firms are taking human trials of Covid-19 vaccines overseas
A Chinese developer has been authorized to start large-scale human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate in the United Arab Emirates. China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a state-owned company, said the clinical trials were approved by the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention during a teleconference on Tuesday. Chinese vaccine developers are looking overseas for the “phase three” trials, which involve thousands of people, because there were not currently enough cases of Covid-19 in the country to be considered suitable for testing. Two other Chinese developers, CanSino and Sinovac Biotech, have previously announced they will start phase three trials elsewhere – in Canada and Brazil respec
China’s leaders in Covid-19 vaccine race use a method shunned in the West
As China leads the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, its scientists are largely pinning their hopes on a technology that has been used for decades. Five out of 10 potential vaccines undergoing clinical trials have been developed by Chinese scientists, while a sixth is the result of a partnership between a Chinese company and a German biotech firm, according to the World Health Organization. But China is adopting a very different approach in its hunt for a vaccine against the disease caused by the new coronavirus. It is the only country pouring resources into the use of inactivated viruses, a technique used in vaccines against numerous diseases in the past – including hepatitis A, influenza
‘Congee boiling in a pot’: the volcano in China they thought was extinct
A volcano in northeast China could be “recharging” for an eruption, with a vast amount of magma believed to be rising up underneath it, according to a team of geophysicists. The researchers say they discovered two huge magma chambers under Wei Mountain in Heilongjiang, near the border with Russia and North Korea. Their modeling suggests the chambers dwarf the volcano, which is 328 feet tall and 3 miles wide. It was a surprise discovery, since the volcano last erupted more than 500,000 years ago and was considered extinct. Geologists have been more focused on Changbai Mountain (known in North Korea as Mount Paektu), to the south, whose eruption in 946AD was one of the most powerful volcanic e
China’s capital wants to punish people for ‘defaming’ traditional Chinese medicine
A draft regulation issued by Beijing’s city government that seeks to punish people for “defaming” traditional Chinese medicine has triggered fierce opposition online. The planned regulation, which was released for public consultation in May, is aimed at expanding the use of traditional Chinese medicine in the health care system, from cancer treatment to infectious disease prevention. One proposed clause bans people from “denigrating or defaming traditional Chinese medicine”. Violating the rule could result in criminal punishment. Despite the limited scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness, traditional Chinese medicine is seen by the Communist Party as a source of national pride and
Covid-19: China must not be complacent, top expert says
China still faces the risk of a second wave of coronavirus infections, but another big outbreak is unlikely thanks to the country’s tight prevention and control measures, according to the country’s top respiratory disease specialist. “With our intensive follow-up monitoring procedures, the risks of a second wave [of coronavirus infections] exist but another peak is unlikely to occur [in China],” Zhong Nanshan said. Zhong, who heads a team of experts advising the Chinese government on the pandemic, said the authorities should not be complacent, with the coronavirus continuing to spread around the world. In addition, most people in China and East Asia had yet to develop immunity to the pathoge
Covid-19 blame game could scupper research, China’s top disease expert warns
The blame game between the US and China is putting important Covid-19 research at risk, according to China’s most renowned respiratory expert. Zhong Nanshan, 83 – who had a leading role in fighting the 2002-03 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic and now advises the Chinese government on Covid-19 – said scientists around the world needed to team up to establish where the new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, had come from. He said US epidemiologist Ian Lipkin, whom he had known since they worked together on the Sars outbreak, had approached him with a method to establish how the virus jumped to humans. But the work could be stalled for fear it would be distorted by political a
Chinese bat scientist says known viruses ‘just tip of the iceberg’
A Chinese virologist at the center of conspiracy theories over the coronavirus’ origin has publicly defended her work, saying it contributed to the fast identification of the new pathogen and would help protect against future outbreaks. Shi Zhengli – dubbed China’s “bat woman” for her research on coronaviruses in the mammals – told state broadcaster CGTN on Monday those studies had “enabled us to understand the cause of the unknown pneumonia a short time” after the first cases of the disease later named Covid-19 emerged late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Days after patient samples were obtained on December 30, scientists isolated the pathogen, believing it to be a new type