US and Chinese medical institutions are working together to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus (2019 - nCoV) which has already caused 440 confirmed cases of pneumonia in China, a US vaccine scientist said on Wednesday.
Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas, said his group at the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at BCM is working to develop a vaccine in collaboration with other US institutions such as the University of Texas Medical Branch, and the New York Blood Center, and with the Virology Center at Fudan University in Shanghai, China.
"This is a great collaboration, " Hotez told the Xinhua news agency.
"But vaccine development is not a fast process, and it's not clear whether we would have a vaccine ready to use before this current epidemic ends. "
Chinese health authorities announced Wednesday that 440 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus had been reported in 13 provincial - level regions in the country by the end of Tuesday.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday that the first coronavirus case has been reported in the US.
Infections of the virus have also been reported in the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Japan.
Hotez said he believes there will be additional cases in the US following the first confirmed case.
"The only good news is that it appears so far that this coronavirus is not as transmissible from person to person as was SARS, " he said.
"But we're still early in this epidemic and we have a lot to learn. "
"For the long term, we should begin vaccine development and have it ready.