US Army researchers work on coronavirus Covid-19 vaccine

6 March 2020 (Last Updated March 6th, 2020 11:01)

The US Army’s medical personnel have commenced testing a potential vaccine against the coronavirus Covid-19, which has claimed 12 lives in the US.

US Army researchers work on coronavirus Covid-19 vaccine
Ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustration.

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The US Army’s medical personnel have commenced testing a potential vaccine against the coronavirus Covid-19, which has claimed 12 lives in the US.

A ‘whole of government’ approach is being taken by army researchers with other agencies in the US and overseas, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, industry, and academia, to identify, prevent and treat Covid-19.

The collaborative effort seeks to ensure that there is no duplication. It is expected to take a year to 18 months to have a fully effective Covid-19 vaccine.

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research director of Emerging Infectious Diseases Kayvon Modjarrad said: “The first phase of testing has already started: testing potential vaccines in mice to see what their response is and making sure it’s safe.”

The second phase would focus on testing in larger animals that are more similar to humans, including monkeys.

Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick in Maryland commander Michael J Talley said: “There’s a good possibility that the outbreak could slow down over the warmer months and then start again later in the year when it gets colder if it follows the pattern of some past coronaviruses.”

Michael said a risk / benefit analysis would be carried out to ensure the benefits far outweigh risks.

In another development, the number of US Forces Korea (USFK)-related coronavirus infections has increased to six.

Two USFK dependents stationed in Daegu have tested positive for the virus. A dependent of a USFK active duty service member has been in self-quarantine since February 26 and is not in contact with any other USFK affiliated personnel.

A dependent of a DoD civilian employee has been in self-quarantine since February 28 with no contact to any other USFK affiliated person.