220727001356 china cdc leader steps down covid intl hnk mic super tease

Scientists on the forefront of China’s preliminary investigation into Covid-19 steps


The management change, introduced by the company on Tuesday, comes amid a restructuring that has moved the China CDC from its place instantly beneath the monolithic middle The National Health Commission was managed and positioned inside a brand new nominally well-organized bureau born of pandemic-era requires reform.

Oxford University-educated and internationally linked Gao, 60, additionally recognized by his Chinese identify Gao Fu, will now not function director “due to his age”, because the China CDC introduced the adjustments. According to the readout of a gathering to be held. Sixty is a regular retirement age for male civil servants, though many don’t adhere to it.

He shall be succeeded by Shen Hongbing, former president of Nanjing Medical University, who’s at the moment vice chairman of the brand new Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, established in 2021.

The change ends the tenure of an internationally revered virologist who observers say is grappling with the company’s limitations with little affect on policy-making – a key distinction between China’s CDC and the US company after which It was created.

Legacy of a foreign-educated virologist

Gao additionally oversaw the company at a time of rising acrimony between China and the United States, made worse by questions over the origins of the coronavirus and allegations that China has suppressed its investigation.

Gao, who made shows at worldwide scientific boards in English and had skilled hyperlinks with Western scientists together with prime American epidemiologist Anthony Fauci, was broadly revered among the many worldwide scientific neighborhood and as a uncommon level of contact with China. seen in

“He will be remembered for being more open-minded and willing to reach out to his counterparts in Western countries,” stated Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for world well being on the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

'More work to be done': Highlights of WHO report on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic

Huang stated, “Under him the China CDC became a more prominent actor in China’s response to the pandemic, especially in the early stages of the outbreak, and an important window for the outside world to learn about China’s COVID response.” Too.”

Before the pandemic, Gao was known for his work in Sierra Leone to combat the 2014 Ebola outbreak, when he was still Deputy Director of China CDC. He took on the role of director in 2017.

Gao was among a group of top-level health officials who traveled to Wuhan, the epicenter of the first known outbreak of COVID-19, before the disease became a global crisis in January 2020. China was criticized for its actions during that period. Because of the three-week gap between the announcement and confirmation of the outbreak by local authorities, the virus can pass between people.

Gao was instrumental in the early scientific papers documenting the outbreak in Wuhan, and developing one of seven COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in China.

He has also been involved in research into the origin of viruses, suggesting, on the contrary, recently published studyThat the Wuhan market linked to the initial cases was not where the new virus emerged, but a place where it was able to spread rapidly among people.

But they have sparked controversy within China and are regarded by some in China’s public health community as a “unfastened cannon”, according to Huang.

In one instance last year, Gao suggested during a presentation that China’s domestic vaccines offered a lower protection rate – he later remarked walked back In an interview with state media in which he called it a “misunderstanding” of his point.

He also came under criticism after an interview with the editor of Caijing magazine, in which he discussed the conditions under which China could relax its zero-Covid policy – a sensitive topic in China, where policy is taken as a personal directive. is seen in. Leader Xi Jinping.

On Tuesday, Gao, who remains vice-chairman of China’s grant-making National Natural Science Foundation, said he supported the changes and that he would “proceed to contribute to the event of illness management and public well being.”

virus flare

Gao’s departure was announced as China grapples with the virus outbreak, relentlessly relying on massive testing and snap lockdowns to handle the outbreak, while much of the rest of the world is in some way of living with the virus. have gone.

As of Wednesday, China has identified 776 high-risk areas in 24 cities across the country where residents are under partial or complete lockdown, according to information from the country’s State Council.

Authorities in Wuhan, which was closed for more than two months in early 2020, announced on Wednesday that they would implement containment measures For three days in the main urban area of ​​Jiangxia district, its nearly 1 million residents were banned from leaving the area and many businesses and public transport were closed. According to official reports, four cases were identified in the district on the previous day.

But as head of the China CDC, Gao had a limited role in policymaking to respond to and control the virus, observers say, because such matters are decided by the cabinet-level National Health Commission, while the CDC played a more technical role. , advisory role.

“Although restricted, (Gao) did its greatest to meet CDC’s function as public well being and scientific advisor,” said Shi Chen, associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health.

“His scientific publications within the early levels of the pandemic helped inform the world concerning the virus. He additionally supported the publication of a scientific journal in English – China CDC Weekly – geared toward extra well timed communication with the worldwide public well being sector. The communication needed to be extra clear.”

It is unclear what role the agency will play now that it is under the National Administration for Disease Prevention and Control. That body was set up following calls to strengthen China’s disease prevention and control system in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Wang Hesheng, head of the National Administration for Disease Prevention and Control, praised Gao’s contribution and set several goals regarding “reform” of the CDC and its operation under the new leadership. These included taking a “clear stance on politics” and “sincerely implementing the essential directions and directives of Secretary-General Xi Jinping”.

And as a result of the new structure, it’s possible that more power could be given to Gao’s successor, according to Chen. “Hopefully, China CDC’s empowerment beneath Shen can obtain one thing that George Gao was unable to,” he stated.

CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.


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