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Zhang Yanjun: Racing against the virus to protect life

ezhejiang.gov.cn| Updated: September 30, 2022 L M S

Zhang Yanjun is director of the Institute of Microbiology in the Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a delegate to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).


Zhang Yanjun works in the laboratory. [Photo/Zhejiang Daily]

Zhang led a team working in the laboratory overnight after receiving a sample from the first suspected case of COVID-19 in Zhejiang on Jan 16, 2020. They worked for seven hours processing the sample, extracting and amplifying the nucleic acid , and viewing the test results, providing a scientific basis for flow tracing and epidemic prevention and control.

Because of the danger posed by the virus, they had to pay strict attention to protection every time they entered the laboratory and were especially careful when doing experiments. Zhang always entered the lab first to confirm it was safe before directing his team to enter.

On January 24 2020, the CDC of Zhejiang province became the first provincial CDC in China to isolate the COVID-19 strain.

In the early stage of the epidemic, to encourage people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, Zhang Yanjun quickly led the team to start screening vaccine virus strains, establish a three-level Seed Bank of vaccine virus strains, and complete preclinical research. In May 2020, the preclinical research results of the COVID-19 inactivated vaccine of Zhang's team were published in Science.

"It only took us about a year to develop a vaccine," said Zhang, who was very pleased to see the new crown vaccine that he helped develop. According to statistics, more than 2.8 billion doses of the vaccine have been used in more than 60 countries and regions around the world, helping stem the global pandemic.