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THE MANILA TIMES ROUNDTABLE

Vaccine against nCoV in the works

 

RUSSIAN Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev on Tuesday said Russian scientists have developed a vaccine against the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD).

“It’s now being tested. We are on the right track. I believe quite soon [there will be cure for
nCoV],” Khovaev said during The Manila Times roundtable discussion.

 


He said Russian scientists were working with other foreign colleagues to come up with a vaccine for the deadly virus.

“I believe that an effective vaccine against the coronavirus will be created soon. So it (virus) will be defeated. Mankind will survive,” the envoy said.

Khovaev said all nations must help in defeating the nCoV, and it was not right to “isolate China.”

“It’s ridiculous [to blame China for the epidemic],” Khovaev said.

The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that the novel coronavirus was a “very grave threat” for the planet as it hosted the first major conference on fighting the epidemic.

About 400 scientists were taking part in the two-day international meeting in Geneva, which will review how the virus is transmitted and possible vaccines against it.

“With 99 percent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“What matters most is stopping the outbreak and saving lives. With your support, that’s what we can do.”

The virus, first identified in the city of Wuhan in central China on December 31, has killed more than 1,000 people, infected over 42,000 and reached some 25 countries.

WHO has declared it a global health emergency.

Participants at the scientific conference will discuss the source of the virus, which is thought to have originated in bats and reached humans via another “intermediary” species such as snakes or pangolins.

WHO sent an advance team to China this week for an international mission to examine the epidemic.

It was unclear, however, whether the team would be able to visit Wuhan, which has been under lockdown after the outbreak was registered in a food and live animal market in the city.

Ambassador Igor Khovaev. PHOTO BY ENRIQUE AGCAOILI

‘Roadmap for research’

There is no specific treatment or vaccine against the virus and WHO has repeatedly urged countries to share data in order to further research into the disease.

“To defeat this outbreak, we need open and equitable sharing, according to the principles of fairness and equity,” Tedros said.

The WHO said it was applying a so-called R&D Blueprint, which allows the rapid rollout of research and development activities during epidemics.

Several teams of experts in Australia, Britain, China, France, Germany and the United States are racing to develop a vaccine — a process that normally takes years.

This week, a team of scientists at Imperial College London said they believed they had become the first to start animal testing of a possible vaccine in mice.

Efforts to come up with a vaccine are being led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a body established in 2017 to finance costly biotechnology research in the wake of an Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people.

Ultimately, however, scientists may end up in the same situation they were during the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) — it died out before a vaccine could be fully developed.

A close cousin of the new coronavirus, SARS spread around the world and killed nearly 800.

 

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