With the new coronavirus claiming 361 lives in China alone, $26 million (20 million pounds) has been donated by the UK government towards an expedited plan to formulate a vaccine to counter the fatal new infection.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday that investment by the government will be made to CEPI - the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an international body working towards the quick development of the vaccine with the six or eight months, the BBC reported. Richard Hatchett, CEPI Chief Executive, said that such a tight schedule was "unprecedented".
Time required to test the vaccine
If the biologists are successful, more time would still be required to test the vaccine more widely and secure sign-off from medical regulators before it could be distributed across the world. "This is an extremely ambitious timeline - indeed, it would be unprecedented in the field of vaccine development," the BBC quoted Hatchett as saying.
"It is important to remember that even if we are successful - and there can be no guarantee - there will be further challenges to navigate before we can make vaccines more broadly available." The UK government's contribution will help fund the efforts of Kate Broderick, a 42-year-old Scottish doctor based in California, who is working to create a coronavirus vaccine. "We hope to get the final product into human testing by early summer," Broderick, a molecular geneticist who works for the pharmaceutical company Inovio, told the BBC last week.
The coronavirus outbreak has been categorised as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation. On Monday, China's National Health Commission said there were a total of 17,205 infected cases, while 2,296 patients remained in severe condition, and 21,558 people were suspected of being infected with the virus.
The number of deaths overtakes that of SARS outbreak
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has overtaken that of the similar SARS epidemic, which spread to more than two dozen countries in 2003, prompting various countries to impose travel restrictions to a varying degree.
The other countries were confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported are Japan (20), Thailand (19), Singapore (18), South Korea (15), Hong Kong (15), Australia (12), Taiwan (11), Malaysia (eight), the US (eight), Germany (eight), Macao (eight), Vietnam (seven), France (six), UAE (five), Canada (two), Italy (two), the UK (two), India (two), Philippines (two), Russia (two), Cambodia (one), Finland (one), Nepal (one), Sri Lanka (one), Spain (one) and Sweden (one), according to the BBC report.
On Sunday, the Philippines confirmed the country's first death from the novel coronavirus, making it the first nation outside China to report a fatality.