Xi presents awards to ‘heroes’ and ‘old friends’ of China

Chinese President Xi Jinping awarded former French PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin for his “long-term commitment to promoting China-France friendship.” (AFP)
Updated 29 September 2019

Xi presents awards to ‘heroes’ and ‘old friends’ of China

  • The ceremony is part of China’s festivities for the 70th anniversary of Communist rule
  • The celebrations will start with a massive military parade in capital Beijing

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping awarded medals and honorary titles to an array of domestic and international “heroes” on Sunday, including a former French prime minister and a centenarian Canadian educator.
The award ceremony is part of China’s celebrations to mark 70 years of Communist rule, which will kick off on Tuesday with a massive military parade in Beijing aimed at showcasing the country’s emergence as a global superpower.
“The heroes and role models are all devoted to the cause of the Party and the people... and hold fast to working for the happiness of the Chinese people,” said Xi in a speech following the presentation of awards.
Isabel Crook, a Canadian anthropologist and educator born in 1915, was the oldest awardee present and had lived in China since before the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, according to official news agency Xinhua.
Born in the southwest city of Chengdu, the centenarian made “outstanding contributions in the cause for China’s education and friendly exchanges with foreign countries,” Xinhua reported.
Former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, an “old friend of the Chinese people,” was recognized for his “long-term commitment to promoting China-France friendship,” said Xinhua.
Other international awardees included former Cuban president Raul Castro and Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
A total of 42 individuals were given awards, though only 29 recipients were present at the ceremony.
Tu Youyou, the first Chinese citizen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for helping create anti-malaria medicine, was among the list of Chinese awardees, as well as Yu Min, a nuclear physicist widely regarded as the “father of China’s hydrogen bomb.”

‘Killer’ cells in Ebola immunity study could help coronavirus research

Updated 9 min 26 sec ago

‘Killer’ cells in Ebola immunity study could help coronavirus research

  • The findings offer hope that immunity to the virus does not need antibodies, which are known to decline within months of infection

Immunity from the deadly Ebola virus could last years after the infection, the world’s longest study of survivors by British and Guinean scientists has concluded, in findings that could have implications for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) immunity research.

The study assessed immune response in thousands of Ebola survivors from the outbreak in West Africa between 2013 and 2016.

A separate study by King’s College London found that COVID-19 antibodies may, in some cases, last only two months, leading to concerns that immunity to the virus could be shortlived, and survivors vulnerable to rapid reinfection. 

The Guinean and British scientists, working from their base in Guinea, found that some Ebola survivors showed no antibodies three months after infection, despite their bodies needing to mount a strong response to fight the virus.

The scientists discovered that, without antibodies, many ebola survivors had the capacity to fight off reinfection with backup “killer” T cells and B cells.

T cells are a type of white blood cell that triggers the body’s immune response. B cells memorize the body’s attack plan against specific pathogens, and rapidly secrete antibodies when reactivated, according to the study’s findings, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The tests currently being used on COVID-19 survivors only measure antibodies, not T and B cells.

The report’s lead author, Miles Carroll, deputy director of the national infection service at Public Health England, said: “Just because antibodies cannot be detected, does not necessarily mean that someone has not acquired immunity from their infection.”