See More on Facebook

News

UK team begins tests on coronavirus vaccine

Scientists hoping to have a candidate ready for mass production by year’s end.


Written by

Updated: February 13, 2020

A group of scientists from Imperial College London has reportedly become the first team outside China to begin animal testing on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

The virus, which causes new coronavirus-infected pneumonia, which the World Health Organization named this week as COVID-19, has killed hundreds and sickened thousands, mainly in the Chinese mainland after making the leap from infecting animals to infecting humans. The newness of the virus in humans means there are currently no vaccines, and no proven therapeutics.

Researcher Paul McKay told the French news agency Agence France-Presse that the team hopes to have an effective vaccine ready for mass production by the end of the year.

“At the moment, we have just put the vaccine that we’ve generated …into mice,” he said. “We’re hoping that, over the next few weeks, we’ll be able to determine the response that we can see in those mice, in their blood, their antibody response to the coronavirus.”

Scientists in China are also understood to be at a similar stage in the drive to develop a vaccine.

Such research is usually is a long, drawn-out process that involves animal testing, human trials, and meticulous checks, but the World Health Organization is understood to be seeking safe and effective ways to speed up the process.

The new virus is a strain of a well-known virus that has been effectively controlled by vaccines in the past.

The researchers at Imperial College London hope research and testing carried out almost two decades ago into the SARS coronavirus will speed up the current process.

“We’re hoping to be the first to get this particular vaccine into human clinical trials, and that perhaps is our personal goal,” McKay said. “Once the phase one trial is complete, which can take a few months … it can be immediately started into an efficacy trial in people, which will also take a few months to complete.”

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which was established during the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos to foster cooperation between universities and pharmaceutical companies, is funding much of the world’s research into a vaccine. However, AFP reports that the Imperial College London team is self-funding.

McKay said the team’s research has been greatly helped by China’s willingness to share information.

“There’s been so much cross-sharing with all of this information,” he said. “I mean the Chinese, as soon as the genome was sequenced, they shared it freely with everyone in the world.”

Imperial College London is playing a significant role in the battle against the virus.

Researchers led by Imperial’s Professor Neil Ferguson became the first in the UK to accurately estimate the size of the outbreak. And that 1 percent of people with the disease will die from their infection.

Ferguson told the BBC he believes the number of new cases will continue to rise.

“I think we’re in the early phases of a global pandemic at the moment,” he said.

Professor Peter Openshaw has also been at the forefront of work carried out by Imperial. He is tracking how the virus affects the body and the immune system.

And Professor Wendy Barclay has pioneered work on how respiratory viruses such as influenza spread and how that information might help in fighting the novel coronavirus.

Professor Robin Shattock, who heads the lab in which the vaccine is being developed, told the United States business news television channel CNBC on Tuesday that a vaccine could still be a way off, and might not be ready until early next year.

“It still requires a lot of testing to see if these vaccines are safe and then see if they work,” he said.

Shattock also noted that his team’s work has been greatly supported by information from Chinese health officials.

John Oxford, an emeritus professor of virology at Queen Mary University London, said on Radio 4’s Today program on Wednesday that the virus does have a weakness, and everyone can play their part in defeating it, regardless of the development of a vaccine.

“It’s not about wearing a mask,” he said. “It’s less of the hand-shaking, touching, and kissing.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


China Daily
About the Author: China Daily covers domestic and world news through nine print editions and digital media worldwide.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

News

Taiwan: 720,000 people registered for purchasing face masks online

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday announced that more than 722,000 people — 600,000 using the NHI app and 122,000 more using the Emask system — had successfully registered for purchasing face masks as of 1 p.m. Asked about people who have reportedly tried to register again, CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung called on the public to stop, stressing that authorities are committed to providing a set of face masks to each user prior to March 18, the official deadline for registration. Regarding some reported phone scams on payment requirements for face masks, Chen asked users to remain vigilant. Access is limited to Taiwan residents who need to register their NHI number, obtain proper digital certification and downloa


By Asia News Network
March 13, 2020

News

Covid-19 outbreak will continue for a year or longer; more stringent measures may need to be put in place, says PM Lee

 In a video address on his social media channels, PM Lee emphasised that the situation in Singapore remains under control. The Covid-19 outbreak will continue for some time – a year, and maybe longer – said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his second national address on the situation on Thursday (March 12). But if Singaporeans keep up their guard and take practical precautions, the country will be able to keep its economy going and people will be able to carry on with their daily lives, he said. In a video address on his social media channels, PM Lee emphasised that the situation in Singapore remains under control. The disease outbreak response level will not be stepped up to red, the highest level, he said. It is c


By The Straits Times
March 13, 2020

News

Foreigners play their part in Shanghai’s epidemic prevention

 Expat volunteers have been active in helping the city overcome the COVID-19 outbreak. Twelve foreign residents in Shanghai have joined a volunteer team to help with the city’s COVID-19 prevention and control. Located in Minhang district, the team was established on Feb 10 by the Jinfeng International Community Development Association, which aims to promote the development of Huacao town and the Jinfeng International Community by organising themed activities and public welfare events. Pakistani Amir Shafiq Khan joined the team to give back. “It’s easy to run away to another country, but I felt that my family and I should contribute to China in this difficult time as it has always offered opportunities to us,” says Khan, who has lived in


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

News

Asian stock markets take cue from US to hit fresh lows

ST Index careens into bear territory for the first time since January 2016 Many stock markets across Asia, including in Singapore, followed the United States into bear territory after US President Donald Trump stopped short of offering a detailed rescue package as the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic. Adding to fears, oil prices slumped further. The Straits Times Index (STI) careened into bear territory for the first time since January 2016. The last time that the STI was in a bear market – where stocks have fallen at least 20 per cent from their recent high – was during the oil price rout in 2016. The STI finished down 3.77 per cent yesterday, and more than 21 per cent down from a peak of 3,407.02 on April 29 last year.


By The Straits Times
March 13, 2020

News

askST: Can coronavirus be spread by sweat, or via activities such as singing?

There is currently no evidence showing that the virus can be transmitted through one’s perspiration. Concerns have been raised over social activities such as singing and exercising in the light of the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday (March 11), Singapore’s largest Safra Jurong cluster of confirmed coronavirus cases went up to 40, against a total of 178 cases. The patients, who had attended a Feb 15 Chinese New Year celebration held in the ballroom of Joy Garden restaurant at Safra Jurong, are members of a Hokkien singing group. This has raised concerns as to whether the disease, known as Covid-19, can be transmitted through singing. Similar concerns have been expressed about whether the virus can be spread through sweat b


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

News

Bangladesh to benefit from coronavirus fallout: survey

Study says globally renowned companies are planning to shift work orders from China to other Asian countries, including Bangladesh. Bangladesh will benefit from the fallout of the coronavirus as most of the globally renowned companies are planning to shift work orders from China to other Asian countries, including Bangladesh, according to a new survey. Hong Kong-based QIMA, a leading provider of supply chain compliance solutions and which partners with brands, retailers and importers to secure, manage and optimise their global supply network, surveyed the executives of more than 200 globally renowned companies between February and early March. Half of the survey respondents are considering shifting supplier sourcing away from China to new countries or r


By Daily Star
March 12, 2020