Health Care

Coronavirus vaccine could be ready in 18 months, says WHO

Coronavirus vaccine could be ready in 18 months, says WHO”

The flu-like virus has killed more than 1,100 people and infected almost 45,000, predominantly in China and mostly in Wuhan. "And we're keeping the public informed about what everyone can do to protect their own health and that of others", he said.

It has also disrupted sporting events in China: motorsport governing body FIA announced the suspension of the Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, originally scheduled for April 19, due to the "continued spread" of the coronavirus.

President Xi Jinping chaired a meeting of the ruling Politburo Standing Committee after figures showed that the number of new cases dropped for the second straight day, fuelling hopes the epidemic could peak later this month.

The National Health Commission said 2,015 new cases had been reported over the last 24 hours, declining for a second day.

Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at Singapore's health ministry, told a news conference it was hard to be confident in projections that the epidemic will peak in China this month but, in any case, peaks in other countries will lag China by one or two months.

"It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks", World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference.

All but one of the deaths recorded so far have been in China, as have more than 99% of all reported infections in the world.

At the end of a two-day meeting aimed at speeding the development of new tests, drugs and vaccines for the new virus, World Health Organization said scientists had agreed upon a set of global research priorities but warned it could still take considerable time before any licensed products might be available.

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But Tedros said it was "concerning" that person-to-person transmissions to people with no travel history to China had recently appeared in France and Britain.

WHO had earlier given the virus the temporary name of "2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease" and China's National Health Commission this week said it was temporarily calling it "novel coronavirus pneumonia" or NCP.

A salesperson in the store's home appliance section was the first diagnosed on Jan 31, Xinhua said, and a series of cases followed.

The country is struggling to restart its economy after the annual Lunar New Year holiday was extended to try to keep people home and contain the virus.

USA chip giant Intel, Facebook, Chinese phone maker Vivo, and Cisco, meanwhile, have all withdrawn from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona over coronavirus fears, joining other industry heavyweights pulling out of the world's top mobile fair.

The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast.

Cambodia finally agreed to let it land, the Holland America Line said.

There was a happy ending in sight for another cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, which Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines had refused to let dock over fears one of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew may have the virus. Singapore has now reported 50 cases. Scientists examined samples from the newborns, including the amniotic fluid, cord blood and throat swabs, and they all tested negative for the virus.

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