PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A biomedical research and training facility in Philadelphia is part of a team to develop a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus. The Wistar Institute says it is part of a collaboration funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to fight the disease.
The new virus has killed 26 people and sickened hundreds in China. The virus appears to have spread into the human population from infected snakes in a market in Wuhan.
“Wistar feels compelled to deploy its expertise and its technological advancements to combat global emerging infectious diseases as part of its mission and is proud to be part of one of the first initiatives to approach this evolving global health threat,” said Dr. David Weiner, director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at the Wistar Institute.
The Institute is a collaborator of Inovio Pharmaceuticals in the $9 million in funding.
“I think having vaccines that can be deployed rapidly will be more and more important going forward,” Weiner said.
The Wistar Institute has helped develop vaccines for Ebola, Zika and MERS.
There are two confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States — Chicago and Washington state.
There are no reports of the coronavirus in the Philadelphia area.
“We’re monitoring the situation with our state, regional, and local partners and receiving and distributing CDC guidance. We regularly work with our hospital and health care community to practice for this type of situation, so we’re confident that—if we get a case—our response will be ready and appropriate,” the Philadelphia Department of Public Health told CBS3.
Hospitals in Philadelphia and around the country are asking patients with flu-like symptoms about where they’ve traveled as they check for potential coronavirus cases. U.S. airports are checking passengers arriving on international flights and widespread efforts are underway, aiming to contain this first-of-its-kind virus.
“We are looking for ill travelers, but equally important, it is an opportunity for us to educate travelers about this virus so they can be on the lookout for symptoms,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier with the CDC said.
Coronavirus, which is similar to a common cold and spreads the same way, causes severe respiratory symptoms and a fever, just like the flu.