Research to find vaccines for China coronavirus put on fast lane

Topics Coronavirus | China | Xi Jinping

Passengers wear protective face masks at the departure hall of the high speed train station in Hong Kong
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has initiated three programmes to develop vaccines against the new coronavirus that has led to an outbreak in China. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual conference of the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR), Gagandeep Kang, executive director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), an autonomous institute under the department of biotechnology (DBT), said, “The idea for this is can we get a vaccine in four months and keep reducing that time? With at least two weeks from the sequence of the virus, we have three companies develop these vaccines.” Kang is also vice-chairperson at CEPI.

She added that coronaviruses are highly virulent, with no treatment options available at this point of time.

The latest strain of the virus, which has been reported from China’s Wuhan province, is already creating ripples across the global health care circuit. 

Coronaviruses typically cause respiratory tract infections in mammals. According to latest updates, more than 600 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Wuhan. It has killed over 17 people. The disease is spreading to other countries as people travel and China has thus put Wuhan under lockdown and restricted people travelling to and from the city. 

So far, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not declared this as a global health emergency. 

According to reports, WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while this is an emergency in China, it has not yet become a global health emergency. WHO, however, indicated that it is committed to ending this new coronavirus. 

There are about seven known coronaviruses. Apart from the Wuhan variant, other key cornonavirus outbreaks include the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that was behind an outbreak between 2002 and 2003. Also, there was the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that led to an outbreak in 2012. 

In all these previous occasions, these outbreaks have caused thousands of deaths across the globe.

CEPI is aiming to advance vaccine candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible for the new coronavirus. 

Apart from the rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI, this initiative will also have a new partnership. Vaccine development efforts will build on existing partnerships with Nasdaq-listed Inovio and The University of Queensland in Australia.

Moreover, CEPI has also announced a new partnership with Moderna Inc and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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