Coronavirus is spreading around the world, but there are still no drugs that can kill the virus or vaccines that can protect against it.
So how far are we from these life-saving medicines? What sort of progress is being made?
Research is happening at breakneck speed, and there are more than 20 vaccines currently in development. Among those underways at the moment are:
The first human trial for a vaccine was announced last month by scientists at a lab in the US city of Seattle. They have taken the unusual step of skipping any animal research to test the vaccine’s safety or effectiveness.
Australian scientists have begun injecting ferrets with two potential vaccines. It is the first comprehensive pre-clinical trial to move to the animal testing stage, and the researchers say they hope to move to the human testing stage by the end of April.
Tests like these are taking place much quicker than would normally be the case, and some are using new approaches to vaccines. It follows that there are no guarantees everything will go smoothly.
But even if these – or any other tests – do prove successful, it’s not expected that manufacturers will be able to produce a mass-produced vaccine until the second half of 2021.
Remember, there are four coronaviruses that already circulate in human beings. They cause the common cold, and we don’t have vaccines for any of them.