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Coronavirus deaths reach 259; Research for vaccine continues
Wuhan coronavirus has led to 259 deaths as of Friday. The number of infected cases reached 11,374 across a total of 26 countries, including China, the US, the UK and Australia.
Besides China, other countries are also working to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which is now a global health emergency.
Evacuations of foreign nationals from Wuhan are underway, while China sent flights to bring back Wuhan citizens from Thailand and Malaysia.
Meanwhile, research organisations and pharmaceutical companies are in a race to develop vaccines and treatments for the new virus.
Coronavirus vaccines and treatments
Germany is the recent country to announce hopes of a potential coronavirus vaccine in the near future. The country’s Research Minister Anja Karliczek said that the vaccine may be developed within few months.
The news comes as a German pharmaceutical company CureVac announced partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine against the new virus using its mRNA platform.
France’s Pasteur Institute Foundation also set up a taskforce to develop a vaccine within 20 months.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) was among the first to announce works on a new coronavirus vaccine. The organisation is working with Moderna to develop the vaccine.
Moderna, along with Inovio Pharmaceuticals, secured the CEPI funding to work on a vaccine.
Moderna will develop a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, while Inovio will work with Wistar Institute, GeneOne Life Science unit VGXI and Twist Bioscience to develop its coronavirus vaccine candidate INO-4800.
In addition, Gilead Sciences is testing its investigational Ebola drug, remdesivir, for potential effect against the new coronavirus strain. Purdue University researchers are also working to develop vaccines and also oral medication for the viral infection.
Vir Biotechnology and Novavax also joined the list of biotech companies with plans to develop a vaccine, while AbbVie provided its HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir for China to test their use in treating coronavirus symptoms.
In addition, Sirnaomics engaged its research teams in the US and China to develop RNA interference (RNAi)-based prophylactics and therapeutics.
Chinese researchers selected to test 30 existing medicines, biologically active natural products and the country’s traditional medicines for potential therapeutic effects against the Wuhan coronavirus.
Johnson & Johnson, CytoDyn, Clover and AbCellera are also working on vaccines and treatments, while Australian scientists recreated a lab-grown version of the new virus.