Chinese scientists race to develop vaccine as coronavirus death toll jumps

  • Deaths jump to 56, with nearly 2,000 cases confirmed on the Chinese mainland
  • US, France and Russia prepare to move citizens out of Wuhan, epicentre of the virus outbreak

South China Morning News
Date: 26 Jan, 2020
By: Lee Jeong-ho,William Zheng,Laura Zhou

A medical worker checks the temperature of a Wuhan resident as scientists rush to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus in China. Photo: AFP

Scientists in China are ramping up efforts to develop a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus which has killed more than 50 people and prompted a wider travel lockdown in central China.The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Sunday that researchers had isolated viruses and were selecting a strain, according to Xu Wenbo, a director of CDC’s virus institute.

Xu told reporters at a press conference in Beijing that researchers had used high-throughput genetic sequencing to identify pathogens one day after the first four samples were sent from Wuhan on January 2.

Meanwhile, the US, France and Russia are preparing to pull their citizens out of Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, as the death toll in China rose sharply on Sunday, with no signs of easing. Other countries are ramping up quarantine measures in an attempt to prevent further infections in their own territories.

The number of confirmed cases and deaths from the fast-spreading coronavirus have both doubled within 36 hours in mainland China as more cities announced travel bans, effective Monday.

China’s National Health Commission said the death toll from the new virus on the mainland had risen to 56 by Sunday morning, with 1,975 total cases confirmed. The figures mark a major jump – of 15 deaths and 688 cases – in just 24 hours.    [FULL  STORY]