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The earliest vaccine for the novel coronavirus in China will be submitted for clinical trials around late April, according to China’s vice-minister of science and technology Xu Nanping.

SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019, has claimed the lives of more than 2,200 people and led to over 76,000 infections across 28 countries.

Companies and researchers worldwide are in a race to develop a vaccine and also effective treatments for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, officially named as Covid-19.

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While various existing drugs have entered clinical trials, vaccine candidates are still in development or preclinical stages. It is estimated that a coronavirus vaccine will take nearly a year to be market-ready.

See all Coronavirus vaccines and drugs in the pipeline

Initial drug data expected within weeks

In a tweet, the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that initial data from the clinical trials of AbbVie’s lopinavir plus ritonavir, and Gilead’s remdisivir is expected to be available in three weeks.

These drugs are prioritised by the WHO R&D Blueprint.

The drugs hold approvals for other indications, allowing them to bypass safety tests in animals. Two accelerated trials are being conducted based on the WHO expert recommendations, reported the Guardian.

A study by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrated that Gilead’s antiviral drug, remdesivir, could prevent a type of coronavirus in monkeys.

The drug prevented the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) disease when administered before infection. In infected animals, the drug improved their condition.

In a separate development, China Daily reported that the combination of traditional Chinese medicine with Western drugs has demonstrated effectiveness against the new coronavirus.

State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine head was quoted as saying: “A large number of clinical practices have confirmed the effect of the combined treatment of TCM and Western medicine on new coronavirus pneumonia patients.”