The United States says it is working to develop a vaccine against the Wuhan virus, while urging Beijing to step up cooperation with international health authorities.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) official Anthony Fauci said: "We have already started at the NIH and with many of our collaborators on the developing of a vaccine."
The process would take three months to start the first trial, three more months to gather data, before being able to move into its second phase, and is being undertaken by the biotech firm Moderna.
"But we are proceeding as if we will have to deploy a vaccine," said Fauci. "In other words, we're looking at the worst scenario that this becomes a bigger outbreak."
China was severely criticised for its handling of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) epidemic of 2002-03, which claimed hundreds of lives.
During that emergency, scientists had begun to develop a vaccine, but it was never deployed, Fauci said.
Separately, the chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson said his company was also developing a vaccine.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the United States has offered China assistance three times in dealing with the crisis - so far without success.
He said this would be necessary so that "we can see raw data, raw evidence and help design the types of studies and analytics" to answer critical questions such as incubation period and whether the infection can be transmitted while patients don't have symptoms.
"We are urging China - more cooperation and transparency are the most important steps you can take toward a more effective response." (AFP)
US working on vaccine for Wuhan virus
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