A state-owned Chinese company has been testing their vaccines on their employees, including top executives, even before the government approved testing in people in the global race to make a coronavirus vaccine, reports AP.
"Giving a helping hand in forging the sword of victory," reads an online post from SinoPharm with pictures of workers it says helped "pre-test" its vaccine.
The claim underscores the enormous stakes as China competes with US and British companies to be the first with a vaccine to help end the pandemic. It will be both a scientific and political triumph.
China has positioned itself to be a strong contender. Eight of the nearly two dozen potential vaccines in various stages of human testing worldwide are from China. And SinoPharm and another Chinese company already have announced they are entering final testing.
SinoPharm's claim that 30 "special volunteers" rolled up their sleeves even before the company got permission for its initial human study raises ethical concerns among Western observers.
"The idea of people willing to sacrifice themselves ... is pretty much expected in China," said Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a US nonprofit organisation.