An Australian lab has managed to recreate the Wuhan Coronavirus in an effort to learn more about the virus and hopefully help create a vaccine.
This is the first time that it has been grown from a cell culture outside of China.
The Doherty Institute in Melbourne tweeted about its success on Wednesday.
The virus was taken from an infected patient and grown under lab conditions. Dr Julian Druce, Virus Identification Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute, said that the breakthrough will now be shared with the World Health Organisation as well as other labs across the world.
“Chinese officials released the genome sequence of this novel coronavirus, which is helpful for diagnosis, however, having the real virus means we now have the ability to actually validate and verify all test methods, and compare their sensitivities and specificities – it will be a game changer for diagnosis,” said Dr Druce.
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According to the Doherty Institute, the Australian-grown Coronavirus will most likely be used to create an antibody Test. This will enable the virus to be detected in people who are yet to present with symptoms and may be unaware that they’re infected.
“An antibody test will enable us to retrospectively test suspected patients so we can gather a more accurate picture of how widespread the virus is, and consequently, among other things, the true mortality rate,” said Dr Mike Catton, Deputy Director of the Doherty Institute.
“It will also assist in the assessment of effectiveness of trial vaccines.”
There are currently five confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Australia. The primary risk group for the virus are people who have recently travelled to or from Wuhan, China.
On January 28 the Australian government’s Smart Traveler website was updated advise people to ‘reconsider [their] need to travel’ to China.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced on January 29 that Christmas Island would become a quarantine station for some Australians currently in Wuhan and its surrounding areas.