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Hello, I’m David Evans. As those of you who read Chinese will see I’m a chemist. I’ve been working in Beijing University of Chemical Technology since 1996. In the last few years, most of my work have switched from working with undergraduates and post-graduates to working with school children, from primary school right up to high school. So we hope by demonstrating chemistry experiments, getting the students actually doing hands-on experiments, we can inspire the next generation of chemists, the next generation of scientists.


Q1: Why did you choose to stay in Beijing during both outbreaks of SARS and COVID-19?


Q2: Many people believe that some western media companies are habitually discrediting China. How do you feel about this?


So China implemented many measures to tackle COVID-19, some of which were criticized by many observers in the West for being ineffective or overly coercive. So I’m looking here at a graph from a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association. So it shows that on January the 23rd when Wuhan was shut down, there were around 400 reported cases of COVID-19 virus. But actually, at that time, there were around 2,500 carriers of the virus. So the conspiracy theories amongst the two would be saying, “Ah yes, I knew all along! China''''s giving us fake figures.” But actually that''''s not the case at all. Because when people have just been infected, they have no symptoms, and then they have very mild symptoms. The usual cause could be due to a cold or a common influenza. It''''s only if the illness becomes more serious that they’ll go to hospital and they’re tested. And then it’s known that they actually are carrying the virus.


So you can actually work backwards and say that seven days ago, for example, when their symptoms first became apparent, this person was actually infected. So that’s how you can estimate though there were around 2500 carriers of the virus when Wuhan was shut down. And looking at the graph, you can see the figures in gray that after Wuhan was shutdown, then the number of new cases actually infected plateaued and then started to decrease. Of course, the actual numbers of reported cases continued to increase for quite a long time afterwards because there''''s a time lag as people who have the disease start to exhibit the symptoms are tested and then shown to have the disease. So I think from that, we can see that the lock down had a very powerful effect. And although it was criticized by many people in the West, other countries, Italy for example, and others are now introducing similar measures because they’ve seen that it does work.


Q3: When did you decide to produce short videos?


You’ve all seen on the news the great contributions that today’s scientists are making to the fight against COVID-19, from quickly sequencing the genome and then developing diagnostic tests, and in the longer term hopefully a vaccine. But of course in the future, we''''re going to face other problems, some of which we know about already-- Climate change, for example. Others like COVID-19 will suddenly appear. But whatever problems we face then, we''''re going to need scientists to actually tackle these problems. So as I often say to the students at the end of my talks, the problems in the future aren’t going to be solved by whitehead scientists like me. And they usually shout up, “Heitoufa, heitoufa(Black hair).” I said, “Yes, your hair is all black at the moment. So I hope that some of you will actually work hard, become scientists. And in the future, you will invent and discover something which will actually benefit society. I’m confident that China is going to emerge stronger from this experience and I hope that we can play our very small part by helping to inspire and train some of the future scientists which the country is going to need as it gets stronger.