On Friday, China’s draft regulator said it has issued some guidelines on the emergency use of Ebola virus diagnostic products. Beijing seems to show real concern about the issue since there are almost 16,000 Ebola cases recorded worldwide, most of them in Western Africa.
Last month, health experts warned that the disease could easily spread across China since a large number of its workers were traveling to Africa and back home. Immigration experts said there were millions of Chinese now living or working in Africa.
Peter Piot, UK tropical medicine expert, said people couldn’t be stopped from traveling; instead the level of infection control in China could be increased. Dr Piot added that this level was very low in the Chinese public hospitals he had visited, although significant improvement has been made since the SARS outbreak in 2002. SARS killed about 800 people and infected 8.000 more worldwide.
China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has publicly stated that it has allowed three major pharmaceutical companies to issue Ebola diagnosis products to be use only in case of extreme emergency. CFDA hopes these new products will provide additional technological protection for China in case of an imminent Ebola outbreak.
The officials from CFDA were very brief on the statement and did not provide further details about the new draft policy or the new Ebola clinical trials this policy involved. For sure is that China approves emergency Ebola tests.
The three companies to produce Ebola diagnosis products are Shanghai ZJ Bio-Tech Co Ltd, Da An Gene Co Ltd, and Shenzhen Pu Rui Kang. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical company Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd works with the Chinese army to develop a new drug for treating Ebola. The company also hopes this drug will be fast approved.
China’s main business with West Africa is in mineral extraction industry due to high demand for nickel, zinc and copper coming from the Chinese industry. Having no such resources on its territory, China must import these metals from other countries for about $100 billion each year. This high amount of metals also represents about 25 percent of world’s supply. So, the Asian tiger saw a real opportunity in extracting these metals from the Nimba Mountains located in both Liberia and Guinea.
Keeping a low profile, China has secretly invested billions of dollars into mineral extraction businesses across Africa. Meanwhile, the Asian country has also built infrastructure and roads into Africa that might have contributed to a rapid spread of the disease. Health specialists say that these infrastructures may have helped animals carrying the Ebola virus to find their way to African villages.