BOSTON (CBS) – The coronavirus has killed more than two dozen people in China and the race to create a vaccine is on at Cambridge-based biotech company Moderna Therapeutics.

A team of scientists in their Norwood lab are working with the National Institutes of Health to research coronavirus. However, to distribute a vaccine around the world, Moderna President Dr. Steven Hoge said they need federal help.

“There are going to be a continuing stream of public health threats, viruses that jump into humans from other species and the longer we wait to respond, the bigger that threat becomes,” Dr. Hoge told CBS News. “The first thing we have to prove is that we can create a vaccine faster certainly than we ever have before.”

Moderna Therapeutics lab in Norwood. (Image credit: CBS News)

They hope to have a vaccine ready for human testing within three months.

“There are certainly unknowns, there are certainly risks with moving quickly in a vaccine, but if we don’t move now, there’s a chance that if things spiral out of control, we won’t be able to respond fast enough,” Dr. Hoge said.

The Centers for Disease Control has raised its travel notice for Wuhan, China to the highest level because of an outbreak of the coronavirus. The virus has already made hundreds of people there sick.

Read: CDC On Coronavirus

So far, there have only been two documented cases of coronavirus in the U.S.

Read: Why Coronavirus Is Dangerous

Symptoms are similar to a respiratory infection and include fever, runny nose and cough. It can progress quickly to a severe pneumonia-like illness with shortness of breath and trouble breathing.


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