Australian scientists have made a key breakthrough in a desperate bid to develop a vaccine for the killer coronavirus.
Researchers at the University of Queensland are making a fast-tracked attempt to make a cure for the disease, which has killed more than 2,200 people worldwide.
There are now dozens of Australians suffering from the respiratory disease, with 47 contracting it on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
Working with the global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations rapid response program, Australian researchers have now met a key milestone in their vaccine effort.
Specialists have spent weeks working on a vaccine for coronavirus, after it killed more than 2,200 people worldwide. Scientists are seen working at a laboratory in France
Coronavirus (pictured) has infected tens of thousands of people across the globe, killing more than 2,200 so far
They are trying to develop the first life-saving vaccine for coronavirus, which has been renamed COVID-19.
Its first attempt is now ready, and will soon be tested.
‘There is still extensive testing to ensure that the vaccine candidate is safe and creates an effective immune response,’ the university’s Vice-Chancellor Peter Hoj said.
‘But the technology and the dedication of these researchers means the first hurdle has been passed.’
A family wearing face masks to protect themselves from coronavirus arrive in Brisbane Airport (pictured) before the travel ban was put in place
A scientist works at the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia (pictured) to try and develop a vaccine for coronavirus
Dr Keith Chappell, senior research fellow and UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said they had used the same technology as had helped developed vaccines for Ebola, MERS coronavirus and Nipah.
‘But this technology is also designed to be able to quickly respond to a currently unknown virus,’ Dr Chappell explained.
‘We’ve put together a group of some of Australia’s leading academic institutions, with the goal of reducing the time required for vaccine development down from multiple years to a matter of weeks.’
Work is being done at laboratories across the world, including this one in Paris (pictured)
The disease has infected more than 75,500 in China, and another 1,150 people across the world in 27 other countries.
Earlier on Saturday, two more Australians were diagnosed with the deadly virus after being evacuated to Darwin from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The Diamond Princess has been moored in Yokohama since February 3, and more than 630 passengers on the gigantic vessel have caught the coronavirus
Tight travel restrictions are still in place across the world. Here, medical staff check passengers for the disease as they arrive from Iran into Najaf, Iraq (pictured)
The Diamond Princess (pictured) has been moored in Yokohama since February 3, and more than 630 passengers on the gigantic vessel have caught the coronavirus
Two people from Victoria tested positive for the infection after being evacuated from the ship, and will be sent to hospitals in Victoria.
Two Queensland women aged 54 and 55 also tested positive on Friday night for the infection after leaving the ship on Thursday and will be flown to a Brisbane hospital on Saturday for further treatment.
Six Australians have tested positive for coronavirus after being taken off the ship.
A 78-year-old man from Western Australia was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth on Friday. His wife was to travel with him but then be isolated at home for two weeks.
A 24-year-old woman from South Australia has been transferred to Royal Adelaide Hospital.
The boat had been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, for several weeks after a man with coronavirus had been on board – infecting dozens of passengers.
There have been 19 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Australian soil.
Meanwhile, Australia has extended its ban on foreign travellers from China for another week as the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Hubei province grows.
The ban is due to end on February 29 but is under ongoing consideration from the national security committee of cabinet.
AUSTRALIANS WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
NEW SOUTH WALES: 4
- Three men aged 43, 53, and 35 who had recently travelled to China are confirmed to have contracted the disease.
- Two flew in from Wuhan while the other arrived in Sydney from Shenzhen, south China.
- They are being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital and are in stable condition.
- A 21-year-old woman is identified as the fourth person to test positive for the illness in NSW.
- The woman, a student at UNSW, flew into Sydney International Airport on flight MU749 on January 23 and presented to the emergency department 24 hours later after developing flu-like symptoms.
- She is being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital.
- A Chinese national aged in his 50s becomes the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Australia.
- The man flew to Melbourne on China Southern flight CZ321 from Wuhan via Guangzhou on January 19.
- He is now in quarantined isolation at Monash Hospital in Clayton in Melbourne’s east.
- A Victorian man in his 60s is diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- He became unwell on January 23 – two days after returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
- The man was confirmed as positive on January 29 and was subsequently seen by doctors at the Monash Medical Centre. He was assessed as being well enough to stay at home.
- A woman in her 40s is found to have coronavirus.
- She was visiting from China and mostly spent time with her family.
- She is being treated at Royal Melbourne Hospital.
- A woman in her 20s in Melbourne is found to have the virus
- Two passengers taken off the Diamond Princess cruise ship test positive
- Queensland confirms its first case after a 44-year-old Chinese national wass diagnosed with the virus.
- He is being treated at Gold Coast University Hospital.
- A 42-year-old Chinese woman who was travelling in the same Wuhan tour group as the 44-year-old man tests positive. She is in Gold Coast University Hospital in stable condition.
- An eight-year-old boy has been diagnosed coronavirus. He is also from the tour group where the other Queensland cases came from
- The case was found in a 37-year-old man, who was a member of a group of nine Chinese tourists in quarantine on the Gold Coast
- A 37-year-old woman has been diagnosed with coronavirus from the same travel group that flew to Queensland from Melbourne on January 27
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: 2
- A Chinese couple in their 60s who arrived in Adelaide from Wuhan to visit relatives are confirmed to have coronavirus.
- Two Australians have been confirmed as having the virus in Wuhan itself. Australia has raised the travel alert level to ‘do not travel’ for the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – and for the entire Hubei province.
- Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says unless people have contact with someone who is unwell and has come from that part of China, there is no need for current concern.
- As of February 15, 47 Australians are among 219 confirmed cases of the coronavirus contracted on board Diamond Princess cruise ship at Yokohama.
- Two more Australians who were on board tested positive after they were evacuated to Darwin on February 22
- Four Australians test positive for coronavirus after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship
- Two Queensland women, aged 54 and 55, tested positive for COVID-19 and will be flown to Brisbane for further treatment.
- Earlier a 78-year-old man from Western Australia was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth . His wife will travel with him but then be isolated at home for two weeks.