Tribute to the fallen mice

A memorial stone at Beijing's Animal Research Institute honours the mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that have died in the race to develop a SARS vaccine.

| Updated on: Dec 08 2004, 19:34 IST

China has unveiled a monument to the unknown mouse. The memorial stone at the Animal Research Institute in Beijing honours the mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and rhesus monkeys that have died in the race to develop a vaccine for SARS.

The stone slab in the institute courtyard is etched with three Chinese characters meaning 'A stone to comfort the departed souls,' Wan Zijun, administrator of the China Academy of Medical Sciences, said on Wednesday.

Wan could not say how many animals were killed in the development of the vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome, the deadly flu-like illness that first emerged in China's south in late 2002. China has been working on a vaccine since last year. The government announced last week that the first round of vaccine testing on humans was completed with no adverse health effects reported from any of the 36 volunteers.

Two more rounds of testing on humans are needed before it can be made available to the public.

The disease killed 349 people on China's mainland and sickened thousands worldwide before subsiding in July 2003. Another person died in April in China during a brief outbreak traced to a Beijing laboratory that handled the virus.

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First Published Date: 08 Dec, 17:27 IST