Coronavirus: At least 170 people are dead and more than 7,700 cases confirmed in mainland China, as the virus spreads well beyond the country’s borders. The question we are discussing in the office is how fast can a vaccine be developed.
This is the first major incident since Medtech has blossomed. Thus, unlike in many previous outbreaks where vaccines to protect people have taken years to develop, research for a vaccine to help stem this outbreak got under way within hours of the virus being identified.
Chinese officials released its genetic code very quickly. That information helps scientists determine where the virus probably came from, how it might mutate as the outbreak develops, and how to protect people against it.
With technological advances and greater commitment from governments around the world to fund research on emerging diseases, research facilities were able to spring into action fast.
Although efforts to come up with a vaccine for this new coronavirus have been accelerated, research is still at an early stage at all the facilities in the race to find a new vaccine. Clinical trials take time and are best carried out within an outbreak setting.
There are no guarantees any of the designs so far will be safe and effective enough to be used in the outbreak in China.
Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo from the WHO’s Health Emergencies programme said: “We have developed a framework to inform decisions on which candidate vaccine(s) should be tested first.
“The experts will consider a number of criteria, including acceptable safety profile, induction of appropriate immune responses, and the timely availability of sufficient supplies of vaccine doses.
Have a read of the attached article to see how the work of scientists, programmers and funders will hopefully help to reduce the damage that Coronavirus will in future do, maybe before it even fully reaches these shores?
“Once China had provided the DNA sequence of this virus, we were able to put it through our lab’s computer technology and design a vaccine within three hours.