The Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia has successfully replicated the novel coronavirus—a disease that affects the respiratory system—on January 28. They are the first outside China to do so. “Having the real virus means we now have the ability to actually validate and verify all test methods, and compare their sensitivities and specificities,” Julian Druce, virus identification laboratory head, tells Rappler.
The virus, which is said to have originated in the province of Wuhan in China, has now spread to at least 10 countries and has already infected thousands. News of deaths due to the virus has sent the world to mass hysteria with some cities going on total lockdown and banning flights coming from Wuhan and other parts of China.
A Step Closer
With the rising death toll, health organizations are scrambling to look for a vaccine and a cure for the virus. As of writing, China has recreated the virus and shared its genome sequence, but not the virus itself. They are yet to share their findings with the public. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that China has agreed to international experts going to the country to help in further understanding the virus.
Australia, on the other hand, will be sharing their findings and the replica with other experts through WHO.
With the recent successful replication done by Australian scientists, the world takes one step forward to understanding the virus’s nature and resistance to medicines.
The institute says that the replica, obtained from a patient sample, will be of great help in creating an antibody test to detect the virus even in patients who do not show any symptoms. It will also aid them in assessing the effectiveness of trial vaccines being created and tested.
While there are still no vaccine or cure for the novel coronavirus, it is up to us to take the necessary precautions to avoid being infected. WHO lists these ways on how to prevent the spread of this virus and other respiratory viruses:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An alternative is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or alcohol with 70% solution.
- Stay at home when you’re sick, and cover nose and mouth when sneezing.
- Don’t touch eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean/unwashed hands.
Health officials have also advised people to avoid nonessential trips to China, so as to avoid the further spread of the virus.