Gu Fangzhou, a famous Chinese medical scientist and virologist who eradicated polio in China, died at the age of 92 in Beijing on Wednesday.
Born in Ningbo, eastern China's Zhejiang Province, Gu served as the former president of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College. He was elected as the member of the Royal Society of Internal Medicine (London) and member of Third World Academy of Sciences.
Gu had devoted to the prevention and control of polio for 42 years. He was one of the pioneers in developing a live oral vaccine and has made significant contributions to eliminating polio in China.
Gu succeeded in developing first polio (Sabin type) live vaccine in 1959 and developed two kinds of live vaccine – liquid and sugar-coated pills in the early 1960s, saving hundreds of thousands of children from disability. He presided over the establishment of China's first regulations on the manufacture and verification of live polio vaccine, which guided the production and identification of billions of vaccines in China over the next 20 years.
China started its nationwide vaccination campaign with oral polio vaccine in 1965, and the number of polio cases has plummeted ever since.
The country didn't see any cases caused by indigenous wild poliovirus in 1994. In 2000, then 74-year-old Gu, as a representative, signed his name at the signing ceremony of China's confirmation report on polio eradication. China was certified by the WHO as a polio-free country in October that year.