The chair of infectious diseases at H.K.U., Yuen told reporters that he and his colleagues were able to isolate the new virus from his city's first imported case, and transform it into a vaccine that, upon being tested and approved, can be publicly released.
"We have already produced the vaccine, but it will take a long time to test on animals," Yuen is quoted as saying, without giving an exact timeframe for when these tests might be completed. He did, however, indicate that the testing phase on animals usually takes a few months, followed by at least another year to conduct human clinical trials.
Yuen says he based his new vaccine on a nasal spray influenza vaccine that he previously developed. By simply modifying this earlier vaccine with part of the surface antigen of novel coronavirus, Yuen and his team believe they've cracked the code.
But, again, it will take years, more than likely, for the thing to be officially approved. And by that time, there's no telling how many people will already have developed coronavirus as this global emergency intensifies with each passing day.
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The Navy Times is also reporting that the National Institutes of Health (N.I.H.) is involved in developing a vaccine for novel coronavirus, using similar methods of Yuen.
Because M.E.R.S. (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and the more well-known S.A.R.S. (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) are both relatives of novel coronavirus – and scientists have already been working on vaccines for those – the plan is to borrow from what's already been developed to target those in creating a new vaccine for coronavirus.
"Scientists are just getting started working, but their vaccine development strategy will benefit both from work that has been done on closely related viruses, such as S.A.R.S. and M.E.R.S., as well as advances that have been made in vaccine technologies, such as nucleic acid vaccines, which are DNA- and RNA-based vaccines that produce the vaccine antigen in your own body," the Navy Times reports.
The coronavirus currently circulating was previously unknown, it's important to note, hence why most news outlets are referring to it novel. It remains to be seen, should the truth ever fully come out, where it came from, and whether or not it was an intentional bioweapon, as some believe.
Further, it represents the third major outbreak over the past two decades of a new type of coronavirus, demonstrating that this particular class of virus has a mutating virulence similar to that of influenza.
With the recent announcement by U.S. authorities about plans to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine into human trials within three months, the expectation, according to one expert, is that the soonest the world could see a coronavirus vaccine is one year.
This is according to Peter Hotez, co-director of Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, who helped develop a potential new vaccine for S.A.R.S. – but only in a best-case scenario, it's important to note.
"The problem is each vaccine is different," Hotez is quoted as saying about how a new vaccine could only potentially come to market within a year if it's confirmed to work on the first try in animals and doesn't cause complications in subsequent human trials.
"It's not like you can snap your fingers and make a treatment."
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Sources for this article include: