The situation with the coronavirus is becoming increasingly alarming as the first doctor who was treating coronavirus patients succumbs to the virus. And while the source and epicenter of the disease, Wuhan city, struggles to build a dedicated hospital, good news might finally be on the horizon as biotech firms are rushing to announce they may have potential vaccines to the deadly virus called 2019-nCoV.
According to C&EN, Gaithersburg, Maryland–based Novavax revealed it would try to make a vaccine, seeing its stock rise 70% within a day of the announcement. Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced a $9 million grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for a potential vaccine.
San Francisco-based Vir Biotechnology said that it would test whether any of the monoclonal antibodies it already has could also work for 2019-nCoV. Moderna Therapeutics revealed a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and funding from CEPI for a potential vaccine.
C&EN also reported that, in terms of diagnosis, the CDC has developed a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test that it plans to share with health officials in the U.S. and abroad in “the coming days and weeks.” Meanwhile, Salt Lake City-based Co-Diagnostics is announcing plans for its own PCR diagnostics.
It is suspected that 2019-nCoV emerged at a seafood and meat market in Wuhan. As of Saturday, the death toll from the virus has risen to 41 and there are more than 1,280 confirmed cases worldwide.
In China, 30 provinces have raised their public health alert to level 1, and more and more public gatherings are being banned. According to state television, Chinese president Xi Jinping warned of a “grave situation” at a special government meeting on Saturday, adding that the virus was “accelerating its speed.”
We don’t really know whether the vaccine will work, but we’re sincerely hoping that a cure is found soon.