Chinese researchers race against coronavirus
A staff member handles nucleic acid testing samples at a novel coronavirus detection lab in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province, Feb. 22, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese researchers have raced against time to trace the source and transmission route of the virus, as well as develop test reagents.
On Dec. 31, 2019, researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences were assigned the urgent task of conducting whole-genome sequencing on samples sent by the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, which possibly contained unknown pathogens. With strenuous efforts, the institute managed to complete the mission in less than a week on Jan. 2, 2020, and they shared with the world the whole gene sequence of COVID-19, winning international recognition for their "Chinese speed."
A research team from Beijing University of Chemical Technology has also worked around the clock to dig into the source of the virus. Some team members even stayed in the lab on Lunar New Year's eve.
Researchers have made arduous efforts to conduct sequence alignment based on the whole gene sequence of COVID-19 and search the database for homology. Next, they plan to carry out epidemiological investigations and virus source tracing by using artificial intelligence and big data to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the screening.
Also at the start of the outbreak, the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Institute of Pathogen Biology under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences were among the first to research and develop coronavirus detection products. As a result of their hard work, two kinds of nucleic acid test kits were developed by different technological methods using fluorescent-PCR and reversible terminator sequencing technologies.
On Feb. 8, 2020, another emergency program was launched to improve fast test technology and products for nucleic acid, antigen and antibody testing to allow on-site screening and rapid diagnosis among suspected patients and close contacts of infected patients.
The release of these scientific achievements in a timely manner greatly eased the panic during the early stages of the outbreak, and it has provided a scientific basis for the current resumption of production and work.