The deadly outbreak of a novel coronavirus has sparked a race among biotech companies, each claiming that its technology can quickly whip up a vaccine to quell a potential crisis. But history suggests the road ahead will be long, unpredictable, and expensive.

Moderna Therapeutics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are among the companies turning their focus to the emerging virus, called 2019-nCoV. Each has received millions in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global organization that has set an audacious goal: to have a vaccine ready for human testing, a process that traditionally takes years, in just 16 weeks.

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  • A successful vaccine will first need a validated animal challenge model which currently does not exist. This is the major bottleneck in vaccine development, rather than an antigen which is easy – just use recombinant spike protein as we successfully did for SARS and MERS

  • With all due respect, Daman Garde’s piece is also significantly incomplete and not up-to-date.

    Per what I deem as authoritative source (CGTV or China Global Television Network) which broadcasted a coronavirus special yesterday:

    1. Wuhan district is erecting a second coronavirus dedicated hospital with 1,500 bed capacity to be complete by the end of February. The first one with ~!,000 bed capacity is slate to be ready by Fenruary 3.

    2. Of the 11 medical care staff infected, most have recovered and if the next diagnostic test schedule for the end of this week shows is negative, then all of them would be released from the hospital.

    3. One local Chinese biotech company have already determined the entire genetic sequence of this new coronavirus and they are focusing on three specific gene sequences to be used to create a vaccine, which they target to be available in three months.

    4. Chinese authorities have allocated massive funding to combat this new virus in the tune of US d$1 billion already, as directed personally by President Xi and the entire effort is personally led by Prmeire Li Kequiang.

  • I dispute David Weiner claim that their Zika program going from zero to having a ready-for-testing vaccine in about seven months. “is still considered the fastest,”. In 2009 in response to the swine flu pandemic, in partnership with Protein Sciences, Vaxine went from discovery of the H1N1/2009 virus (April 2009) to first human doses administered (18 July 2009), i.e. 3 months, which to the best of our knowledge is the current record.

  • With all due respect to Drs. Feinberg and Zaks an Weiner, how long did it take to for R&D and finally launch Ebola and Zika viruses? A couple of years? TO have an effective treatment for Corona virus in only a few month? Really?

    How much would these treatment or vaccine cost per patient? Where is the financial incentive? Separately and more importantly, how long would it take to obtain a patent for these treatments or vaccines?

    • Dan,

      Whatever US is prepared or would do would be anemic and too little too late compared to what China has already. They have learned their lessons from SARS very well.

  • Typo :

    Meanwhile our useless politicians are consume by the impeachment. It is a distraction especially when you the see it in the front page instead of the status of the epidemic or what the government is doing. At least Australia is acculuating a lot of medical supplies on standby in preparation for the novel virus reaching their border, which it will reach with the way things are going in China.

    The congress had once agains shown how irrelevant and useless they had become. A waste of taxpayer money.

    Even you one is a Democract, it is very hard not to be ver disappointment with them. Pelosi is once again proving that politics is more important than people lives.

    If the impeachment does not wrap out in 2 weeks and the coronavirus explode in the US, they can kiss my votes goodbye. One can only take so much shit before one gets feed up.

    • Gene: I think you have forgotten the first year of the Trump presidency when he unilaterally pulled funding by from a range of EPA and NIH research grants. The is stalled critical scientific research on all levels and is a contributing factor to why the US is lagging behind the kind of cutting edge development and response that China is so successfully engaging in.
      If anything, this impeachment trial is critical in reinstating the scientific capacity of the United States in order to respond in any meaningful way to future environmental and novel biological threats.

  • Meanwhile our useless politician are consume by the impeachment. It is a distraction especially when you the see it in the front page instead of the status of the epidemic or what the government is doing. At least Australia is reading a lot of medical supplies on standby.

    The congress had once agains shown how irrelevant and useless they had become.

    Even you one if Democract, it is very hard not to be ver disappointment with them. Pelosi is only again proving that politics is more important than people lives.

    If the impeachment does not wrap out in 2 weeks and the coronavirus explode in the US, they can kiss my votes goodbye. One can only take so much shit before one gets feed up.

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