As more cases of coronavirus disease continue to be reported from across the world, scientists may be set to submit vaccines for testing beginning in late April, according to Xu Nanping, China’s vice-minister of science and technology.
Several researchers, companies and scientists are in a race to find the most effective vaccine even as more positive cases continue to be reported around the world.
Earlier this month, Indian-origin Professor SS Vasan, a scientist working in Australia, led researchers close to developing a vaccine after successfully growing the virus for the first time outside of China in a lab setting. The batch of the viruses were used to study how a vaccine could be developed against the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The group of researchers he led were all from the University of Queensland in Australia. They had been selected by an international organisation called the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) to use modern medical technology to quickly develop a vaccine against the virus.
At present, a combination of antiretroviral drugs, which are typically used to treat individuals who have been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are being given to those who have contracted COVID-19. Earlier, an infected individual in Thailand was the first to be ‘cured’ from the disease after being treated with such drugs. Three cases of the disease were reported from Kerala. However, due to timely intervention by healthcare officials, the three were hospitalised, treated and sent home after repeated tests came back negative for the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had earlier tweeted that initial data from the clinical trials of a combination of antiretroviral drugs would be available in three weeks. A study by the US National Institutes of Health showed that the drug Remdesivir has been found to be effective against a strain of the coronavirus in monkeys.
Several experts have pointed out that the development of a vaccine had not been possible for SARS or MERS, which has led to several concerns surrounding the current outbreak.
As of Saturday, over 77,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with most of the cases being reported from China. Over 2,300 deaths have occured, with Iran reporting 4 deaths and an additional 14 new cases as of Saturday morning.