While we’re all busy self-distancing or quarantining, wondering if we or others around us are sick, raiding the grocery shelves for bags of lentils and pasta, scientists and doctors in China have been working on a coronavirus vaccine. Officials say they’ll have this vaccine ready next month for emergency situations and clinical trials.
“According to our estimates, we are hopeful that in April some of the vaccines will enter clinical research or be of use in emergency situations,” Zheng Zhongwei, director of the National Health Commission’s Science and Technology Development Center, said today.
Currently, eight institutes in China are working on five approaches to inoculations, according to the South China Morning Post. The illness has sickened more than 118,000 people and killed at least 4,200 worldwide, mostly in mainland China, as of Tuesday afternoon.
Under Chinese law, vaccines can be used earlier for emergency use in a major public health emergency. Usually, it would take about 12-18 months to make sure the vaccines are safe. However, in this case, officials may consider the benefit outweighing the risk.
America has also been working on a vaccine. The Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna Inc. sent its vaccine to the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for testing late last month. We could potentially hear about those results in July or August.
In the meantime, wash your hands!