A team of scientists created a vaccine that may have been able to prevent the deadly coronavirus outbreak, but they were never able to get funding to commence clinical trials, experts told Congress on Thursday.
Dr Peter Hotez, co-director of the Centre for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, testified before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee as health officials confirmed at least 160 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in at least 17 states across the country.
“We had the vaccine ready to go,” the doctor told lawmakers about a vaccine his team developed to protect against a strain of coronavirus in 2016, but “by then nobody was interested in a coronavirus vaccine.”
Dr Hotez said the vaccine his team created in response to SARS may provide patients with cross-protection from the new strain of coronavirus that has caused more than 3,200 deaths worldwide, the majority of those cases resulting in China where the illness was believed to have originated.
But he explained that his team attempted to secure funding from investors in order to move the vaccine into the clinical trial phase, but a decade had gone by since SARS spread across China, and agencies were not focused on preventing another coronavirus outbreak.