Joint pandemic fight of US, China 'optimistic'


W. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Cooperation, transparency, investment key to global public health: researcher

An epidemiologist at Columbia University known as the "virus hunter" said China's decision-making process and infrastructure investment have contributed to the country containing the COVID-19 outbreak and he remains "optimistic" for Beijing and Washington to work together in fighting the pandemic.

W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, visited China in January 2020 to help contain the coronavirus.

He was invited to work with Chinese scientists during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Lipkin said China has "dramatically" improved its infrastructure for detection and control of emerging infectious diseases since the SARS epidemic.

"The investment paid off during the COVID-19 pandemic in diagnostics, vaccines and personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and other clothing," Lipkin told China Daily.

Thanks to its "extensive, stringent and thorough" containment measures and support policies, China became the only major economy in the world to post positive growth in 2020 amid the pandemic.

Its gross domestic product is expected to increase by 8.1 percent this year from 2.3 percent last year, the International Monetary Fund predicted on Jan 26. The draft Government Work Report of China sets the goal for the country's GDP growth this year at over 6 percent.

Further reinforcing public health infrastructure to ward off and treat diseases, the nature and size of COVID-19 is one of the hot topics for national lawmakers and political advisers gathering in Beijing for their annual meetings.

Lipkin said there are three pillars of success in preventing COVID-19 and other pandemics: intelligence, insight and implementation.

Asked about the prospects for China and the US to ramp up cooperation in these pillars, Lipkin said: "I am always optimistic. The key to global public health is global cooperation, transparency and investment."

In a video talk with Chinese medical experts last week, Lipkin said that until the entire world is vaccinated, the situation is bleak.

"We need to work together in a global fashion," Lipkin said, echoing a call from Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, for the US and China to work together to boost the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access initiative and promote vaccine equity.

"Over the past 35 years, what I have become convinced about is that the largest obstacles to progress are not technical or scientific, as you've seen our ability to make vaccines and diagnostics is extraordinary," Lipkin said.

It's the lack of international, inter-institutional and interpersonal trust, respect and collaboration, he said.

Lipkin said he had a cooperative program with Sun Yat-sen University in South China's Guangdong province focusing on zoonotic diseases, including looking for antibodies in people exposed to wild animals and butcheries.

But the whole project came to a halt late last year because, "I ran into a problem of an export license" in the US, he said.

With the new US administration in place, Lipkin said he expects scientists would "be better positioned to work together as we have in the past".

"If we can get the appropriate financial and political support, I believe that we can identify the source of the virus and how it emerged from wildlife," he said. "We also plan to build screening systems to ensure that nothing like SARS or COVID-19 emerges again."

W.伊恩·利普金,流行病学教授,哥伦比亚邮差公共卫生学院感染和免疫中心主任。[图片提供给中国日报]合作、透明、投资是全球公共卫生的关键:哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)研究员、被称为“病毒猎人”的流行病学家安表示,中国的决策过程和基础设施投资有助于中国遏制新冠肺炎疫情,他对中美合作抗击疫情仍然“乐观”。哥伦比亚大学梅尔曼公共卫生学院感染和免疫中心主任伊恩·利普金于2020年1月访问了中国,以帮助遏制冠状病毒。在2003年非典爆发期间,他应邀与中国科学家合作。利普金说,自非典疫情以来,中国“显著”改善了检测和控制新出现传染病的基础设施。“在新冠肺炎大流行期间,在诊断、疫苗和个人防护设备(如口罩、手套和其他衣物)方面的投资获得了回报,”利普金告诉《中国日报》。由于其“广泛、严格和彻底”的遏制措施和支持政策,中国成为世界上唯一一个在2020年疫情期间实现正增长的主要经济体。国际货币基金组织1月26日预测,中国今年的国内生产总值预计将从去年的2.3%增长8.1%。中国政府工作报告草案将今年国内生产总值的增长目标定在6%以上。进一步加强公共卫生基础设施以抵御和治疗疾病,新冠肺炎的性质和面积是聚集在北京参加年度会议的各国议员和政治顾问的热门话题之一。利普金说,成功预防新冠肺炎和其他流行病有三大支柱:情报、洞察力和实施。当被问及中美在这些领域加强合作的前景时,利普金表示:“我一直很乐观。全球公共卫生的关键是全球合作、透明度和投资。”在上周与中国医学专家的视频谈话中,李普金说,在整个世界接种疫苗之前,情况是暗淡的。“我们需要在全球范围内共同努力,”利普金说,这呼应了中国疾病控制和预防中心主任高福的呼吁,即美国和中国应共同努力,推动新冠肺炎疫苗全球准入倡议,促进疫苗公平。“在过去的35年里,我确信进步的最大障碍不是技术或科学的,因为你已经看到我们制造疫苗和诊断的能力是非凡的,”利普金说。他说,这是缺乏国际间、机构间和人际间的信任、尊重和合作。李普金说,他与中国南方广东省的中山大学有一个合作项目,专注于人畜共患疾病,包括在接触野生动物和屠夫的人身上寻找抗体。但他表示,去年年底,整个项目停止了,因为“我在美国遇到了出口许可证的问题”。利普金说,随着美国新政府的成立,他预计科学家将“像过去一样,更好地合作”。“如果我们能得到适当的财政和政治支持,我相信我们可以确定病毒的来源以及它是如何从野生动物中出现的,”他说。“我们还计划建立筛查系统,以确保不会再出现像非典或新冠肺炎那样的情况。”

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