With clusters of coronavirus (COVID-19) popping up outside of China’s borders, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned about a possible “severe disruption” to the daily lives of Americans.
Nancy Messonnier, MD, the Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, urged business and schools to have a plan for a wider outbreak in the United States because the growing number of cases in places such as Italy, South Korea, and Iran means that screening to catch cases will become increasingly difficult as travelers enter the country.
This is especially true for a disease that scientists are now reporting has, in some cases, an incubation period of more than 14 days. Chinese authorities discovered a man testing positive for COVID-19 after 27 days in isolation and another man testing positive after what could have been as long as a 38-day incubation period but who remained asymptomatic.
Fourteen cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States, all of which occurred in people who recently traveled to China or their relatives. It is possible that the CDC might change the guidelines for when a person showing symptoms is tested. Currently, testing only occurs in those who recently traveled to China or for those in close contact with a recent traveler and are experiencing respiratory symptoms.
Even before the recent spread of COVID-19 outside of China, Sanofi announced plans to partner with the US Department of Health and Human Services to fast track a COVID-19 vaccine.
Staff at Sanofi Pasteur, the business unit of Sanofi that is responsible for global vaccines, previously worked with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority on a vaccine for SARS-CoV. SARS-CoV belongs to the same family of disease as COVID-19. Because a licensed vaccine based on this platform already exists, Sanofi said it will allow research to be performed and materials to be produced at an advanced pace to begin clinical testing. Sanofi also stated that due to its platform already in place, an opportunity exists to manufacture large quantities of the vaccine candidate.
The announcement from Sanofi comes shortly after reports suggesting that Gilead is struggling to find patients to complete clinical trials for its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir.