Fast response gives vaccine makers a head start

BEIJING: When Wu Guizhen and her colleagues at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing received their first sample of an unknown virus on Jan 2,2020, they rushed to identify it.

The sample had been collected from a pneumonia patient in Wuhan, Hubei province.

“It’s similar to when you cannot see the enemy during a war if you cannot get a clear picture of a virus when fighting an infectious disease, ” said Wu, chief biosafety expert at the China CDC.

In the initial days of the Covid-19 outbreak, when the disease was referred to as “pneumonia caused by unknown causes”, Wu and other virologists at the China CDC’s National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention had never been busier. The virologists worked around the clock to analyse the sample using the latest technology.

In less than a week, on Jan 7, China CDC researchers successfully isolated a new coronavirus from the sample.

The prompt release of information on the novel coronavirus greatly facilitated research and development of Covid-19 vaccines across the world, which has made “the miracle” of market approval of vaccines possible within one year of the disease being identified.

“Following the release of the genome sequence, all countries were able to produce testing kits for the virus, or research and develop vaccines, ” Wu said. “It also laid the foundation for research in tracing the virus’ origin, monitoring its mutation trends and figuring out how the virus causes sickness.” -- China Daily/ANN

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