By Tia’Lavon Hill, Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local
The coronavirus has become the world’s number one enemy. The virus is said to cause flu-like symptoms, and most likely spread into the human population from an infected animal at a market in Wuhan. More countries are also reporting coronavirus cases, including the U.S., which confirmed a fifth case on Sunday. Officials have confirmed that the virus has been transmitted from person- to – person, however it is still unclear how easy it is to contract from another individual. On Monday, Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Paul Stoffels expressed his optimism, that the drug maker could create a vaccine in the coming months, to fight against the fast-spreading coronavirus, according to CNBC.
Stoffel said it could take up to a year to bring it to market, but there is hope that the company could shave two to three months off of that due to technological advances, he said. “We have dozens of scientists working on this so we’re pretty confident we can get something made that will work and stay active for the longer term,” said Stoffels, also vice chairman of the executive committee, in a “Squawk Box” interview. We’ll see in the next few weeks how this goes.” Stoffels confirmed the company started working on a coronavirus vaccine two weeks ago. Chinese officials said there are now more than 2,800 confirmed cases of the flu-like coronavirus, with the death toll rising to 81. According to the World Health Organization, the new strain comes from a large family of viruses known as coronaviruses.
They are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The panic surrounding the disease has proven severe as well. On Sunday, authorities temporarily banned the trade of wild animals in China. Several companies, including Walt Disney’s Shanghai Disney, are suspending operations until further notice, to prevent the outbreak from spreading. This is especially unusual, as this comes during the normally festive week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
Starbucks and McDonald’s also closed stores in Hubei province. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to sink about 400 points at Wall Street’s open on Monday. U.S. stock futures were under severe pressure, following stock markets around the world lower, as the coronavirus outbreak widened. In response to the pandemonium surrounding the virus, Stoffels said the speed at which it is spreading is “scary,” but doesn’t constitute panic. “But at the same time, I’m very worried that this could become a global pandemic,” he said. “That’s why we started working on this vaccine two weeks ago, we have to be prepared that this is going to become a global crisis.”
This vaccine required the pharmaceutical company to start from scratch, according to Stoffel. As for the road ahead, he said “We are going to take an approach with at least five different constructs and different partners and collaborations all over the world in order to see which part of the virus we can use to make an effective vaccine and develop a model that we can invest in.”