An American scientist has claimed that his team was close to developing a vaccine of coronavirus in the aftermath of SARS outbreak, caused by an earlier coronavirus similar to Covid-19.
A team of Texas scientists led by Dr Peter Hotez developed the vaccine in 2016, reports NBC News. But they could not test the efficacy of the vaccine that was developed after years of research. They sought for a fund to test the medicine on humans, with no response.
Regretting over the matter, Peter said the world could now have a weapon in hand to fight the deadly virus.
Peter along with other vaccine scientists now termed the matter as a big missed opportunity.
They argue that severe acute respiratory syndrome-SARS of 2003, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome-MERS of 2012, should have triggered major federal and global investments to develop vaccines in anticipation of future epidemics.
"We could have had this ready to go and been testing the vaccine's efficacy at the start of this new outbreak in China," Peter told NBC news.
He made his claim public at a time when hospitals are left with few options other than ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients suffering from respiratory failure.
As the deadly coronavirus has continued to take its toll on life and economy worldwide, researchers across the globe have been scrambling to develop vaccines or drugs for the coronavirus.
But prospects are bleak to get one ready in months or in a year.
"It's tragic that we won't have a vaccine ready for this epidemic," Hotez wrote in prepared remarks. "Practically speaking, we'll be fighting these outbreaks with one hand tied behind our backs."
Meanwhile, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore say the key to slowing and treating the coronavirus might be hidden in the blood of those who've already recovered from the disease.
Dr Arturo Casadevall, chair of the molecular microbiology and immunology department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, argued that collecting blood serum or plasma from previously infected people might be the best hope for treating severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, at least until a better treatment can be developed.
In a paper published Friday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Casadevall and his colleague Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski drew some evidence from recent history that suggests the approach could work.
In 2003, doctors in China used plasma from recovered patients to treat 80 people suffering from the viral disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS — an earlier coronavirus — and found that the treatments were associated with improved outcomes and shorter hospital stays. In 2014, the World Health Organization published guidelines for using donated plasma to treat people infected with Ebola after the treatments showed promise.
The method of using "convalescent serum" — essentially harvesting virus-fighting antibodies from the blood of previously infected patients — dates back more than a century, but has not been used widely in the United States in decades.
During the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, scientists reported that transfusions of blood products obtained from survivors led to a 50 percent drop in deaths among severely ill patients. A similar strategy was used to treat and slow the spread of polio and measles outbreaks decades ago, but the technique fell out of favor in the 1950s with the innovation of modern vaccine science and antiviral drugs, said Dr. Casadevall.
"I'm an infectious disease doctor who is interested in history," Casadevall said. "I knew the history of what was done in the early 20th century with epidemics. They didn't have vaccines then, they didn't have any drugs then — just like the situation we face now. But physicians then knew that, for certain conditions, you could take the blood of the immune and use it to prevent disease or treat those who became ill."