A team of San Diego laboratory scientists has reportedly created a vaccine for the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and in potentially record-breaking time.
According to Fox Business, the scientists, operating at a satellite location of Pennsylvania-based American biotech company Inovio Pharmaceuticals, discovered and tested the successful vaccine within three hours of receiving a full overview of the virus’ genetic composition.
“We were able to rapidly construct our vaccine in a matter of about three hours once we had the DNA sequence from the virus available because of the power of our DNA medicine platform,” Inovio president and CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim told the outlet.
“Our goal is to start phase one human testing in the U.S. early this summer.”
Now, the race is on for the innovators at Inovio to move into the human testing phase and begin working with partners to mass produce its vaccine for international markets.
Kim’s company, which has been responsible this past decade for speedy turnarounds on vaccines for both the MERS virus — a coronavirus strain he referred to as being “in the same family as COVID-19” — and the more recent Zika virus outbreak, is looking to dramatically reduce its typical research, development and production time in response to the world’s latest emerging public health threat.
“We’ve done this many, many times before,” Kim said. “We’re planning to beat our own record.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 14, 2020
That record reportedly came in 2016, when Inovio managed to move from vaccine discovery to the human testing phase in under seven months, according to Reuters.
But Kim told Fox Business that at the rate Inovio is currently moving, it may be able to do the same thing this year “in close to half that time.”
Meanwhile, in Wuhan, China, where international health officials believe the virus originated, no such progress is being made.
In fact, all warning signs seem to indicate disaster, as revised totals released by Chinese officials Friday show a spike in virus-related deaths, pushing the death toll to nearly 1,400 — well number of people killed by the similar 2002 SARS outbreak.
All but a few of those deaths have occurred on mainland China, according to CNN.
AFP graphic on the global spread of the #coronavirus COVID-19.
China virus death toll nears 1,400 with 64,000 infected. pic.twitter.com/wacJ9ZgVhR
— AFP news agency (@AFP) February 14, 2020
Chinese state media releases footage of dozens of trucks spray disinfectants in the city of Luoyang amid the coronavirus outbreak.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 11, 2020
Experts at the World Health Organization have been working, however, to stop the spread of stigma or panic surrounding the virus, reminding the international community that a recent broadening of the definition of a confirmed coronavirus case is in part to blame for the rapid increase in reported diagnoses this week.
Regardless, there is no question the societal shock waves of this viral outbreak are reverberating violently in China, where the vast majority of cases have been reported.
In Wuhan and other cities in the Chinese province of Hubei, home to nearly 60 million people, public transportation has been shuttered and mass quarantines are being enforced.
Hundreds of miles away from Wuhan, 30 million more Chinese citizens have been put in government-mandated lockdowns, The Washington Post reported.
And caught in the grips of mass panic, the rest of the nation, from rural and suburban communities to the bustling commercial centers in Beijing and Shanghai, have all but shut down, according to The New York Times, as efforts to stop the virus’ spread take a turn for the industrial — if not the tyrannical.
The worst of those efforts has even been caught on video, with the U.K. Daily Mail and social media users on the ground reporting hazmat-clad officials have begun clubbing stray animals to death in broad daylight and forcibly arresting suspected patients in their homes.
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Unfortunately, it seems such is life in the People’s Republic of China.
While struggling to introduce free market health care alternatives since moving away from an entirely communist system in 1984, China still covered roughly 95 percent of its citizens under a basic public health plan in 2017, according to The BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical journal.
And from several dangerous strains of the Avian influenza to SARS to COVID-19, the sprawling communist nation has a very real and very recent history when it comes to zoonotic infectious diseases — outbreaks that the Chinese Communist Party has proven time and again to be either unfit or unprepared to deal with.
Yet, the allure of candidates who advocate for the adoption of similar socialized health care systems here in the U.S. is statistically increasing.
Apparently, phenomenal health care outcomes and free markets that drive the creation of vaccines for deadly diseases in three hours or less just isn’t cutting it.
The guy in the corner booth with 103-degree fever and the hazmat-clad government official breathing down his neck?
Yeah, we’ll have what he’s having.
The ignorance and insanity is truly astounding.
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