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Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 15:08
Scientists embark on hunt for vaccines and medicines
By Wang Xiaodong
Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 15:08 By Wang Xiaodong

Employees in protective suits work at the fever clinic at Tongji Hospital affiliated with the Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Jan 28, 2020. (PHOTO / CHINA NEWS AGENCY)

As the whole nation joins efforts to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, scientists in China have started efforts aimed at developing vaccines and drugs for the virus.

The Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday it will soon start research and development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus after managing to isolate strains of the virus on Friday.

Zhang Yanjun, director of the center's microbiological laboratory, said it obtained the qualification to undertake such research on Jan 22, and isolated the first strain from the sputum samples of a confirmed patient last week, paving the way for work on a vaccine and the development of anti-virus medicines and rapid test kits.

Zhang said his laboratory was working on genome testing of the virus, but it might take some time before the new vaccine is developed as "more clinical trials are needed".

Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said it will take at least a month to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the news website ifeng.com reported.

At the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, researchers have started to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the center said on Sunday.

Scientists from the center have isolated the virus, and are working to select the proper strain for vaccine production, Xu Wenbo, head of the center's viral disease control and prevention institute, said.

Research and development of a vaccine was complex work, he said, usually requiring between two and three years before availability for use, while adding it could be possible to develop a new vaccine in a few months in emergency conditions with priority approval.

The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences also announced on Monday that it has set up a special team comprised of senior experts from home and abroad to organize research on the new virus, including researching and developing innovative drugs and treatment.

In Shanghai, a new broad-spectrum antiviral spray has been put into use at the emergency wards of Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center to protect medical staff from the new coronavirus.

Beijing's Global Health Drug Discovery Institute and the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Tsinghua University have jointly launched a series of projects to develop drug candidates for the new virus, the institute said on Tuesday. It said it would share its drug discovery capabilities and resources for free with all researchers engaged in developing new treatments for the virus.

Ma Zhenhuan and Zhang Kun contributed to this story.


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