A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been featured on every headline this past week as the WHO declares the outbreak a global public-health emergency. The 2019-nCoV causes illness ranging from the common cold to mores severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which can spread from person-to-person. The CDC believes that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Common symptoms include a fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe respiratory issues, kidney failure and even death.
The 2019-nCoV was first identified in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. It quickly traveled around the world and the United States reported its first case on January 21, 2020. Since the break out (as of January 30th), over 7,800 people have been infected and 170 people have died, according to statistics. However, scientists believe that the real number is likely higher.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against the 2019-nCoV, nor any specific antiviral treatment. The best way to prevent the infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Government scientists in China, the United States and Australia, as well as those working at Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Therapeutics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are all working quickly to develop a new vaccine. According to the New York Times, “The hunt began January 10th, when Chinese scientists posted the genetic make-up of the virus on a public database. The next morning, researchers at the National Institute of Health’s Vaccine Research Center in Maryland went to work. Within hours, they had pinpointed the parts of the genetic code that could be used to make a vaccine.”
Despite the quick response from several teams of scientist around the world, creating a vaccine for the 2019-nCoV can be a very long and expensive process. The first step is to identify the natural or synthetic antigens that might help prevent it. Then scientist will study how it interacts on a cellular level. After they are able to identify that it will be safe and effective for humans, clinical trials begin for Phases 1 – 3 research. After a successful Phase 3 trial (which could take up to several months or years), the manufacturer will submit for a license through the FDA, and it will be available for the general public. The only way to create a vaccine and determine if it is effective is to perform research studies at sites similar to Rochester Clinical Research, and provide the data to confirm that a vaccine is safe and effective. If you would like to help advance medicine and change lives and join a vaccine research study, please see below what we have available . Be sure to check back often, as we have new studies starting all the time.