China's top respiratory experts recommended for highest state honor

2020-08-04 15:57:21 CGTN CGTN


Zhong Nanshan, a top respiratory expert who identified the SARS virus in 2003 and is currently leading the Chinese government's efforts in the fight against COVID-19, was recommended for the Medal of the Republic, a working committee for honor-granting said on Monday.

This is the second time the Medal of the Republic is being given out after the country honored a number of exemplary figures in 2019 for their outstanding contributions to the People's Republic's development since its founding in 1949.

What's more, national honorary titles, which honor those who make exceptional contributions in specific fields, will be awarded to other three prominent experts at the same time.

Zhang Boli, Zhang Dingyu, and Chen Wei, all of whom played an important role in the fight against COVID-19, have been shortlisted for national honorary titles, the committee said.

(L-R) The Medal of the Republic, the Friendship Medal and the medal of national honorary titles. (Photo/Xinhua)

Decorated with illustrations of China's national emblem, a five-pointed star, the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, a mountain and orchid flowers, the medal so far has only been conferred on eight people, including Yuan Longping, father of hybrid rice, Tu Youyou, Nobel Laureate in medicine, Yu Min, father of China's hydrogen bomb.

Meet the candidates

Zhong Nanshan: Born in 1936, Zhong was one of the most important figures in fighting the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003. As head of Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, he offered to treat all critical SARS cases in Guangdong Province at his institute.

When the COVID-19 outbreak hit China in January, the 84-year-old medical genius chose to work on the front line, saving millions of lives inside and outside of China. He was the first person to publicly warn that the virus can be transmitted from one person to another.

The introductory statement released by the committee lauded Zhong for his courage to speak out.

Zhang Dingyu: As the acting president of one of Wuhan's major hospitals in treating COVID-19 patients, the man who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in October 2018 chose to stay with his colleagues, and save lives with no looking back.

Zhang Boli: As a candidate for the national honorary title, Zhang directed the country in utilizing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to defeat the novel coronavirus. He also led the formulation of the TCM treatment protocol for COVID-19 patients.

Having spent 82 days in Wuhan fighting COVID-19, Zhang is in Beijing now as a national lawmaker drawing up proposals to help the country better prepare for epidemics on the legal front.

Chen Wei: Chen is a professor at Academy of Military Medical Sciences. The vaccine co-developed by Chen's team and a Chinese vaccine developer was the first in the country to proceed to the human testing stage in March. The vaccine project that she headed is one of a handful of vaccines that have shown some promise in early human testing prior to much larger trials to demonstrate efficacy.

She is also one of the key leaders in China's Ebola vaccine research.