The development of vaccines for the novel coronavirus is making progress after its infection model on primates has been established. Also, two chemical compounds have been proven to be effective in restraining the activity of the virus, which will speed up the process of developing drugs to fight the outbreak, science and technology officials of Hubei province said.
The province, at the epicenter of the outbreak, has launched emergency research and development projects that aim to increase the cure rate and reduce the motility rate, Xiao Juhua, deputy governor of Hubei, said at a news conference in the provincial capital of Wuhan on Sunday night.
Two diagnostic kits for the antibody of novel coronavirus jointly developed by the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a biopharmaceutical company are in production and soon will be released to the market, according to Wang Wei, a leading official of the Hubei Department of Science and Technology.
"The kits are easy to operate and can protect the users from getting infected," Wang said.
Meanwhile, two diagnostic kits for virus and a testing system developed by the biopharmaceutical companies in Hubei were approved by the National Medical Products Administration on Jan 26, Wang added.
"Also, teams at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University have optimized the procedure of extracting the nucleic acid of the virus, which has helped cut the diagnosis time by half. The fastest diagnose time is only two hours," Wang said
Besides making faster diagnoses, the experts have also been working hard to develop vaccines and drugs to fight the virus.
"The animal experiments of having primates infected with the virus from rodents and ferrets have been carried out, and the infection model on primates has been established. This will further support the development of vaccines," Wang said. "Also, two chemical compounds have been proven to be effective in restraining the activity of the virus, which will speed up the process of developing drugs to treat patients."
Zhang Dingyu, president of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, said at the news conference that the hospital was the first to use lopinavir/ritonavir, which is sold under the brand name Kaletra and a medication for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, to treat patients with the novel coronavirus.
"It seems that Kaletra is effective on patients with early symptoms. It can help prevent the disease from getting severe and life threatening, but we still need stronger evidence," said Zhang, adding that he's noticed that Kaletra is seen as a cure for the novel coronavirus on the internet.
Zhang warned people that the side effects of Kaletra include gastrointestinal discomfort, allergy and hepatic damage.