Medical staff work at the department of infectious diseases in Wuhan Union Hospital, to combat the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) pneumonia, in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
Researchers from China's prestigious Tsinghua University are stepping up vaccine development targeting the novel coronavirus, which has already caused 7,711 confirmed cases of pneumonia in China as of Thursday.
Zhang Linqi, head of the research team and professor of the university's School of Medicine, said developing a vaccine against the virus will be much easier than finding an HIV vaccine.
HIV varies greatly, but the novel coronavirus does not. In addition, most infected people can recover quickly, indicating that the human body can produce a strong immune response to the virus infection, said Zhang, also a leading scientist of HIV research.
"Therefore, I think the virus vaccine development will be more reliable and efficient."
Tsinghua has accumulated rich experiences over the past years in developing vaccines and agents against coronaviruses known to infect humans, including the SARS virus. In 2019, Zhang led a research team that came up with a vaccine targeting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus.
He estimated that the research team will take at least 40 days to develop a candidate novel coronavirus vaccine, with the help of new vaccine technology.
The researchers are also working together with hospitals across China to conduct clinical trials on patients that have been cured of the disease.