More Britons evacuated from Wuhan as UK donates £20 million to speed up vaccine

pharmafile | February 3, 2020 | News story | Sales and Marketing China virus, MERS, Sars, Wuhan Coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus China 

More Britons have been flown back from Wuhan, the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, while the UK government has donated £20 million to speed up the development of a vaccine.

Eleven British people have arrived at RAF base Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, after taking a flight to Marseille from China earlier. They will be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital where 83 others are spending two weeks in quarantine. The first group arrived on Friday.

One of the quarantined men, Joshua Drage, described arriving back in the UK, saying: “The first thing you’re met with is a bunch of people in hazmat suits, which makes you feel like it’s a lot worse.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb said there may be around 30,000 British citizens still in China, but the government will attempt to do everything they could to help those who wanted to return.

The government has also donated £20 million towards a coronavirus vaccine. This will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is a global body aiming to fast-track a vaccine within six to eight months. It will help the efforts of Dr Kate Broderick who is creating a vaccine in California. She said: “We hope to get the final product into human testing by early summer.”

Dr Richard Hatchett, CEPI Chief Executive, discussed the quick development of the vaccine saying: “This is an extremely ambitious timeline – indeed, it would be unprecedented in the field of vaccine development. It is important to remember that even if we are successful – and there can be no guarantee – there will be further challenges to navigate before we can make vaccines more broadly available.”

The Coronavirus outbreak began on 12 December, and has been traced to a Wuhan market that sold meat and animals. The disease is thought to come from animal products. Currently known as 2019-nCoV, the virus is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans. It has been categorised as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

This episode is reminiscent of the SARS epidemic in 2003 that spread to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada; it killed 774 people and infected over 8,000. Chinese scientists reported that they had generated the genetic sequence of the new virus and it is a coronavirus that is in the same group as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus).

Conor Kavanagh


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