Health experts have warned that China still has a long way to go before it can escape the threat of a new Sars crisis. Experts admit that no significant breakthrough has been made in the search for a vaccine. There are also significant weaknesses in the health system, particularly in areas such as emergency treatment, that need to be addressed. Speaking at the International Forum on Sars Control and Prevention in Beijing this week, the Deputy Health Minister, Huang Jiefu, said many questions about the virus had not been answered. 'It is still not known where Sars came from and which animal is the virus' host,' he said. 'A vaccine would be the most effective weapon against Sars. However, no complete breakthrough has been made so far.' The Ministry of Health and Italy's Foreign Affairs Ministry jointly hosted the forum on Monday and Tuesday, with experts from China, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, the World Health Organisation and the Asian Development Bank reviewing the Sars outbreak and announcing plans for co-operation. Officials admitted there were weak points in the health system. 'The development of our public health system has lagged far behind,' said Mao Lian, a deputy director of the Health Ministry. 'The emergency treatment mechanism is not mature, which has resulted in low levels of efficiency.' The director of Beijing's health bureau, Han Demin, said the city spent 'between two and three billion yuan on Sars prevention and treatment during the Sars period, including 700 to 800 million yuan on government spending, hospital spending and donations from non-governmental organisations and individuals. But that's only an estimate. It's hard to calculate exactly.'