Australian scientists develop lab version of coronavirus

2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is a new variant of coronaviruses and this is the first time it has been reported to have infected humans. (Photo: Reuters). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


MELBOURNE, Jan 30, 2020, The Khmer Times. A team of scientists in Australia said Wednesday they had successfully developed a lab-grown version of the coronavirus that may help efforts to diagnose and treat the disease spreading in China and overseas, The Khmer Times reported.

While the scientists at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne called their work a “significant breakthrough” that will allow for accurate investigation and diagnosis of the virus globally, the CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis said Wednesday it will take at least a year to find a vaccine.

“The reality is, it will take over a year in my expectation to really find a new vaccine for this so, we need to really use epidemiological controls to really get this situation in a better place,” Vas Narasimhan told CNBC in Basel, Switzerland, the headquarters for the pharmaceutical company.

The researchers in Australia said they were able to grow a copy of the virus from an infected patient. They said the copy could be used as “control material” for testing and “will be a game changer for diagnosis”.

The laboratory-grown virus is expected to be used to generate an antibody test, which allows detection of the virus in patients who have not yet displayed any symptoms.

“An antibody test will enable us to retrospectively test suspected patients so we can gather a more accurate picture of how widespread the virus is, and consequently, among other things, the true mortality rate,” Dr Mike Catton, deputy director of the Doherty Institute, told the London Telegraph. “It will also assist in the assessment of effectiveness of trial vaccines.”

He said scientists at the institute had been planning for an incident like this for many, many years and that’s really why we were able to get an answer so quickly.”

The institute said it would share its work with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the hope it could improve efforts to treat and diagnose the virus, which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

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