When news of the deadly coronavirus broke, it sent many people across the globe into a panic.
Citizens of all countries, and not just China where the virus developed, began to wonder how long it would take before a vaccine was created and whether they could be at risk of this potentially fatal illness.
So, is there a coronavirus available?
At this stage, the coronavirus vaccine is still being developed, however, there are multiple scientific bodies and pharmaceutical companies working on the solution.
As the 2019-nCoV disease seems to be spreading quickly through all parts of the world, there have been global calls for a vaccine to be produced quite quickly.
As with any vaccine though, it can take time to create and further time to be tested for efficacy, especially when it comes to a new and unpredictable virus like this one.
We’re going to look further into what this virus entails and whether or not we can expect a vaccine to be developed any time soon.
- 1 What Exactly is Coronavirus?
- 2 The Current Coronavirus Situation
- 3 The Coronavirus Vaccine
- 4 Are There Specific Medicines to Treat Coronavirus?
- 5 How to Keep Safe and Prevent the Spread of 2019-nCoV
- 6 Related Questions
The discovery of the coronavirus in China has led to worldwide panic, with already hundreds of deaths reported and thousands of patients being diagnosed and isolated.
CoV is a large family of viruses with this particular strain never being identified in humans before.
The 2019-nCoV virus is believed to have begun in the Wuhan province of China in mid to late December.
According to the World Health Organisation, the novel coronavirus can be transmitted between animals and people, this is similar to how the SARS outbreak was spread from civet cats to humans.
The initial case was reported in China in December, and since then it has spread globally to the United States, Australia, and parts of Europe.
The symptoms can be as mild as a common cold or as severe as other respiratory syndromes like SARS and MERS, which can make it hard to identify those who are carrying the virus.
It’s recommended that anyone with symptoms of a cold or flu isolate themselves until they can get a medical assessment, and those with more serious symptoms should seek help immediately.
The main issue with the coronavirus is that it can be deadly in the elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Serious cases can lead to infection which turns into pneumonia, kidney failure, and sometimes even death. Therefore, the introduction of a coronavirus vaccine could be beneficial to those who are in vulnerable groups.
The most recent numbers show that the coronavirus outbreak has affected more than 20,000 people and killed at least 400 people.
During the SARS outbreak, 349 people died in mainland China and with numbers already rising above this in a short time, it has caused global panic.
Although there are more deaths reported, health experts say they are encouraged by the steady rise in the number of recoveries.
As with the discovery of any new virus, especially one that appears to be so deadly, it’s natural that the global community is concerned.
However, the panic surrounding a threat of a pandemic like this will only make matters worse and can lead to unnecessary worry.
The recovery numbers can be taken as evidence that the treatments being delivered by medical practitioners have been effective and that the virus does not appear to be as deadly as SARS.
The current mortality rate is around 2 percent, whereas SARS had a rate of 9.6 percent. While work on a vaccine continues, this positive news is hopeful to calm some of the panic that has taken over.
Each day it seems news arises about the development of a coronavirus vaccine with researchers and scientists working around the clock for a solution.
After scientists in China released the genetic sequence for the virus in mid to late January, other pharmaceutical companies and researchers were able to start working on a solution.
As it stands now, there are multiple different bodies working on a viable vaccine.
In recent reports, a team from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland have begun creating a vaccine by making a modified version of a part of the virus, with work starting in late January.
When applied in a vaccine, this will help the human body to make powerful antibodies that can help the host fight the coronavirus.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations has also pledged $11m to help three different research programs, including one at the University of Queensland in Australia, to help with their efforts in finding a solution.
Their goal is to have a viable vaccine ready for production within 16 weeks, but this will require further time for testing its effectiveness and safety.
Whenever a new virus is discovered, the initial public reaction is to ask for a vaccine.
However, it can take time and a lot of testing to develop one, which is why people need to be educated about the virus and how to prevent the spread of it in the meantime.
Although there is no vaccine in place to prevent coronavirus, the World Health Organisation has released some information about treating the illness.
WHO recommends that anyone with symptoms receive immediate medical care, especially if they’ve been to China recently or have been in contact with someone who could be carrying the virus.
At this time, there is no specific medicine recommended, but there is a clinical trial beginning shortly in China for a drug to treat the coronavirus infection.
The antiviral drug is aimed at diseases like coronavirus and Ebola and is being tested in China to see how effective it might be. This trial includes around 270 patients who have been infected with the virus to see if it could be a potential solution.
Official statements say the best way to prevent the spread of the disease is with basic hygiene, and WHO claims that the following remedies will not be effective forms of protection, and could even be more harmful:
- Taking antibiotics;
- Wearing multiple masks
- Taking vitamin C;
- Drinking herbal teas;
How to Keep Safe and Prevent the Spread of 2019-nCoV
Education and prevention are the key measures to take when it comes to reducing the spread of a disease like this.
Although most cases currently appear to be in China and new regulations banning travel from China into most countries are in place, we still need to be careful about potentially spreading germs ourselves.
This virus is believed to be spread through droplets of bodily fluids, just as they are with other colds and flu. These tiny droplets of saliva and mucus can travel several feet and even stay in the air for up to 10 minutes, which is why basic hygiene is a necessity.
Understand the common symptoms of infection and be mindful of them.
You may experience anything that feels like a cold, such as a cough or sneezing, or it could be as severe as breathing difficulties and fever.
These signs don’t always mean you have been infected with 2019-nCoV but you should take extra care to prevent the spread of infection if you have them.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth when sneezing or coughing;
- Cook all foods thoroughly, including meat and eggs;
- Wash your hands regularly;
- Avoid contact with anyone who is showing symptoms like sneezing and coughing;
- Seek medical attention if you believe you are showing symptoms yourself;
While the coronavirus family is nothing new, this particular strain is, therefore we need to be vigilant to prevent its spread and do what we can to understand it.
Here are some commonly asked questions about the illness and the likelihood of a coronavirus vaccine to give you some background into what’s being done.
How is a Vaccine Created?
A vaccine is made by using bacteria or viruses that already exist, like the coronavirus, and then weakening them so they’re unable to reproduce.
This means people are given just enough of the virus to prompt their body to start fighting it, without giving them enough to make them sick.
The incubation period of a virus is the time it takes for symptoms to appear, and with the coronavirus, this can be between two to 10 days.
As this is a new virus, more research is needed, but understanding the incubation period can result in more effective quarantine procedures to prevent its spread.
There is no evidence that postal items from China would be able to carry the coronavirus.
As found with previous viruses like SARS, this virus does not appear to live long enough on surfaces that would allow it to spread like this. The most common way the virus is spread is through droplets spread by coughing or sneezing.