With no sign that an outbreak of a new coronavirus is abating, virologists worldwide are itching to get their hands on physical samples of the virus. They are drawing up plans to test drugs and vaccines, develop animal models of the infection and investigate questions about the biology of the virus such as how it spreads.
“The moment we heard about this outbreak, we started to put our feelers out to get access to these isolates,” says Vincent Munster, a virologist at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Hamilton, Montana. His lab is expecting to receive a sample in the next week from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, which has led the response to US cases of the virus.
The first lab to isolate and study the virus, known provisionally as 2019-nCoV, was at the epicentre of the outbreak: in Wuhan, China. A team at the Wuhan Institute of Virology led by virologist Zheng-Li Shi isolated the virus from a 49-year-old woman, who developed symptoms on 23 December 2019 before becoming critically ill. Shi’s team found1 that the…
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