BEIJING, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A group of Chinese institutions is stepping up vaccine development for the novel coronavirus, which has already caused 7,711 confirmed cases of pneumonia in China as of Wednesday.
China's prestigious Tsinghua University has set up a research team with rich experience in developing vaccines and agents against coronaviruses known to infect humans, including the SARS virus.
Lead researcher Zhang Linqi said developing a vaccine against the virus will be much easier than finding an HIV vaccine. His team is also working with hospitals across China to conduct clinical trials.
Shanghai East Hospital of Tongji University and Stermirna Therapeutics Co., Ltd. have launched a program to develop an mRNA vaccine targeting the novel coronavirus. Developers say manufacturing the vaccine samples will need no more than 40 days.
Researchers from Fudan University, also based in Shanghai, are making joint efforts on the virus vaccine development with their U.S. counterparts from Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas Medical Branch and the New York Blood Center.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has started developing vaccines after isolating the first strain of the novel coronavirus earlier this week.
So far, five strains of the virus have been isolated and two of them are ready for vaccine development. According to scientists, a tentative vaccine could be available within three months.
Chinese companies are also participating in the vaccine research. Alibaba Group said it will offer free access to all artificial intelligence capabilities needed for the virus vaccine development.
To combat the spread of the virus, China's Ministry of Science and Technology has recently launched an emergency project offering sci-tech support across 10 aspects, including vaccine development.