Professor. Yu Yongxin, Director Emeritus, First Department of Viral Vaccine, National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, People’s Republic of China.
Professor. Yu Yongxin had spent nearly three decades to derive an SA14-14-2 Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine from kidney cells of hamsters. Tested for immunogenicity and efficacy in experimental animals and then human subjects, the vaccine is widely regarded as the most efficacious and safest in preventing encephalitis in children. Since 1988, the vaccine has been distributed to over 200 million children in China and to millions more in India, Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, as well as Thailand. It was proven to greatly help reduce the spread of encephalitis in Asia.
JE encephalitis is the most important disease in the group of encephalitis diseases caused by viruses which have insects as carriers. The disease cannot be cured but can be prevented by vaccine. The disease has been found in Asia, particularly in countries namely India, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and China. It used to be an epidemic in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan but is currently under control. Normally, patients with JE encephalitis show no symptom. What is found are brain-related symptoms including the inflammation of the brain and membranes enveloping the brain which can result in the patients’ death or disability. Since the vaccine was placed in the list of primary vaccines by Ministry of Public Health following its Immunity Promotion Plan, JE encephalitis has hardly been found in Thailand.
Professor. Yu’s research and development of JE encephalitis vaccine have contributed to the prevention of the diseases with no cure. His efforts helped ensure that millions of patients in Asia would avoid death and disability caused by the disease.