(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday became the latest drugmaker to begin work on developing a vaccine for a new coronavirus that has already killed more than 100 people in China, as health authorities race to contain the outbreak.
J&J said its vaccine program would utilize the same technologies used to make its experimental Ebola vaccine, which is currently being administered in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Three separate research teams backed by a global coalition set up to fight epidemic diseases last week said they will start work on developing potential vaccines against the new coronavirus.
The research will be conducted by drug developers Moderna, Inovio Pharma, and a team at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Gilead Sciences last week said it was assessing whether its experimental Ebola treatment could be used against the coronavirus.
J&J also said it had donated its HIV drug Prezcobix to China for use in research to find a solution against the outbreak.
The United States and Japan evacuated their nationals from the quarantined city of Wuhan, while British Airways suspended flights to mainland China as deaths from a new virus leapt to 133 and a government economist predicted a huge hit to the economy.
Coronavirus infections can lead to respiratory illnesses, some of which can be severe and deadly such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Shailesh Kuber)