Indian origin scientist based in Australia has successfully grown the first batch of coronavirus, which might help create a vaccine. By Tanvi Jain
Professor SS Vasan and his team have managed to grow the first batch of the coronavirus outside of China, in a high-security lab at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which is a leading scientific agency of Australia.
The first-ever lab-grown version of coronavirus outside China was also created in Australia itself by the researchers of Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne. The virus created with the help of a sample from an infected person proved to be a breakthrough for Vasan and his team.
CSIRO scientists are reportedly aiming at a 16-week deadline to test a vaccine on humans, after first testing on ferrets.
Vasan has also worked on dengue, zika and chikungunya, in the past. He is an alumnus of BITS Pilani and IISc-Bengaluru, who also studied in Trinity College, Oxford on Rhodes scholarship. Post his doctorate, he worked for Oxford spin-out Oxitec on dengue, chikungunya, and zika, and later in another high-security facility in Porton Down, England.
Australia has recently confirmed to have been working on a former resources industry workers’ camp in the Outback to quarantine evacuees from Wuhan.
The deadly outbreak has so far claimed over 630 lives in China, after over 69 new cases were reported on February 6. The number of infected patients has also crossed 31,000. Chinese province Hubei alone has reported as many as 22,112 cases.
In a shocking incident on February 7, 34-year-old Chinese doctor, Dr Li Wenliang, who was the whistleblower of threat imposed by coronavirus, died at Wuhan Central Hospital while treating patients. He had warned his fellow medics about the virus last December but was instead investigated for spreading rumours. His death sparked outrage against the government for not taking his warning seriously.
So far, the virus has spread across 24 countries including India as well. All the 645 Indians rescued from Wuhan have been kept in isolation at Army Base camp in Manesar, Gurugram and in ITBP camps in Delhi. All have tested negative for the virus.
As of now, India has confirmed three cases from Kerala—all medical students from Wuhan. Two Chinese nationals have also been quarantined at Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital.
So far as many as 1,38,750 passengers from 1,265 flights had been screened for the virus, of which 510 samples had been sent to laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and all have tested negative.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared coronavirus as a global health emergency.