US partnering with drugmakers on coronavirus vaccine

US partnering with drugmakers on coronavirus vaccine
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The Trump administration is working with two pharmaceutical companies to develop a treatment for the coronavirus.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday said it would provide funding to French drugmaker Sanofi to produce a coronavirus vaccine candidate.

HHS said its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide “expertise and reallocated funds” to support the vaccine’s development

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Sanofi previously worked to develop a vaccine for SARS, which is another type of coronavirus.

“Using this proven technology, we can pivot immediately to address this new global health threat. Our goal is a licensed vaccine to provide long-term health security against this latest virus and prevent future coronavirus outbreaks,” Rick Bright, the director of BARDA, said in a statement.

However, a vaccine will take well over a year before it is ready to be tested on people. 

Also on Tuesday, BARDA said it was expanding its partnership with Janssen, part of Johnson & Johnson.

Janssen is working on a vaccine, but on Tuesday said it was also working to determine whether previously tested medicines can be used to help patients survive a coronavirus infection and reduce the severity of disease from the virus, called COVID-19, in nonlethal cases.

There is currently no approved vaccine, treatment or diagnostic for novel coronavirus infections, and health authorities are scrambling to find one as the number of cases in China skyrocket.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said there are now 72,528 cases of coronavirus in China, including 1,870 deaths. In the past 24 hours, China reported 1,891 new cases, including both lab-confirmed cases and those confirmed by clinics.

Outside China, there are now 804 cases in 25 countries, with three deaths, WHO officials said.