Well-Being Prevention & Cures

The US is racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine

a needle for a vaccine

Story at a glance

  • There is currently no vaccine for the strain of coronavirus from Wuhan, China, that has killed more than 100 people.
  • The National Institutes of Health and Moderna are working together to develop a vaccine.
  • Human trials for the new vaccine could begin in the next three months.

The strain of coronavirus that has killed more than 100 people around the world and infected thousands is known to scientists as 2019-nCoV. Its origin and ability to spread are unknown, but experts and authorities are already working on how to keep it from breaking out again

Scientists at three different institutions are working on coronavirus vaccines with funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global partnership launched at the Davos World Economic Forum in 2017. Inovio, headquartered in Pennsylvania, and the University of Queensland are working on vaccines for MERS-CoV, another strand of coronavirus, and the flu, which poses a greater risk to Americans than the new coronavirus

Meanwhile, under a third grant, Moderna has partnered with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to create a vaccine for the Wuhan strain of coronavirus. 

“Our intention with this work is to leverage our work on the MERS coronavirus and rapid response platforms to speed up vaccine development. There are no guarantees of success, but we hope this work could provide a significant and important step forward in developing a vaccine for this disease,” said the CEO of CEPI in a statement on Jan. 23, saying they hoped to start testing in 16 weeks. 

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said they hoped to begin human testing in three months. The vaccine is currently being developed at their headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. On Jan. 27 the Maryland Department of Health reported that a state resident was being tested for the disease. 

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland, D.C. or Virginia as of this article’s publication.