Coronavirus (Representative Image: Reuters)
Pune-based Serum Institute of India and American biotech firm Codagenix have developed a preventive vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19), which is ready for pre-clinical trials and may even progress to human trials in six months, The Times of India reported.
A collaborative effort, the candidate vaccine was made using synthetic lab-made coronavirus. While global efforts are also on, this is a breakthrough as it significantly reduces the time taken to develop a vaccine for use.
Adar Poonawalla, the owner and CEO of SII, said it would take seven to eight years to develop a vaccine for use by conventional methods.
"We have already marched ahead by generating a candidate vaccine in the laboratory of our US-based partner Codagenix. Our vaccine-virus strain is identical to the original virus and can generate a robust immune response," he told the paper.
The death toll in China has climbed to 1,868, and the total confirmed cases jumped to 72,436 on February 18, National Health Commission officials said.
Of the 98 new deaths, 93 were reported from Hubei Province — the epicentre of the virus. The province also reported 1,807 new confirmed cases, taking the total number of such cases to 59,989 in the province. Another 1,432 new suspected cases were reported from the rest of China, they added.
Top World Health Organisation (WHO) experts, including those from the US, have joined the fight against COVID-19.
"The foreign experts on board the China-WHO Joint Mission have arrived in Beijing. They have started relevant activities. We have experts from the US on the mission," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media.
NHC said China had stepped up efforts to shore up weak spots as the epidemic prevention and control had entered the most crucial stage.
Nine temporary hospitals with more than 6,960 beds have opened in Hubei. As of February 14, a total of 217 medical teams with 25,633 medical workers had been sent to Hubei, the Xinhua report said.