The rapid sequencing of the viral disease’s genetic sequences has made it possible for scientists to make a potential vaccine sooner than expected. Multiple trials are being conducted on animals and tests are also being conducted in Washington state and the University of Nebraska. Clinical trials on coronavirus are typically expected to begin within six months of the virus first being detected.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said it is likely a treatment for the deadly virus will be developed before a vaccine.
In his address to a House Appropriations subcommittee at the House of Representatives on March 4, he said
He said: “The good news is that we did it fast.
“The bad news is the reality of vaccinology means this is not going to be something we’re going to have tomorrow.”
Dr Fauci said if the drug trials were shown to be at least “somewhat effective” it could be rolled out in the next “several months”.
The first batch of a potential vaccine was shipped to the NIAID on February 24.
A “phase 1 trial” is expected to start in about four weeks.
This period is expected to last three to four months.
It will likely be followed by a larger trial of up to eight months.
This will involve hundreds of people, Dr Fauci explained.
A Washington nursing home is at the centre of the outbreak in the US.
Thirteen residents at the Life Care Centre in the city of Kirkland died in the early days of the outbreak after testing positive for COVID-19.
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A further 11 have died in recent weeks of causes still to be determined.
A spokesman for the said on Sunday that 70 employees were displaying coronavirus symptoms.
The CEPI global epidemic response coalition said on Tuesday it will put a further $4.4 million into deals with the biotech firm Novavax and the University of Oxford to rapidly develop potential vaccines against the virus.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which was set up to fight emerging epidemics, said the extra funding brought its total investment in development of new vaccines against the new coronavirus to $23.7 million (£18.38 million).
As of Tuesday, there were more than 114,300 cases of COVID-19 infection with the new coronavirus worldwide and at least 4,026 deaths.
CEPI’s chief executive, Richard Hatchett, said the group was working at speed to develop a vaccine, which he said would be”crucial in the world’s efforts to tackle this virus”.
CEPI has so far invested in the development of six vaccine candidates against COVID-19, including projects with the American firms CureVac, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Moderna, and with the University of Queensland in Australia.
The new funds will go towards initial funding for Novavax to pave the way for phase 1 safety trials.
Oxford University will use the money to support the manufacture of vaccine materials required for animal testing and early-stage human safety trials, it said.
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