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Scientists in Galveston working on coronavirus vaccine

The virus is live and dangerous, but it’s a major tool for scientists.

GALVESTON, Texas — A live sample of the Wuhan coronavirus has arrived at the Galveston National Laboratory on the campus of UTMB. Scientists had been hoping to get a sample, and it finally arrived a few days ago from the CDC. 

It came from the first U.S. patient, a man in the state of Washington who had recently traveled to China. His case made news a few weeks ago.

RELATED: First US case of China coronavirus confirmed in Washington state

The virus is live and dangerous. But it’s a major tool for scientists.

"One of our strengths here is we work with the live pathogens, the disease-causing organisms, and that’s why we have all this biocontainment," said Dr. James Le Duc of the Galveston National Lab.

The lab scientists wear hazmat suits when working with the coronavirus. They are working to replicate the virus and send it to other high security labs around the world.

As scientists everywhere are working to fight the virus, they hope to come up with better ways to detect the virus, as well as a vaccine and drugs to treat it.

"Ideally, we'd like to have a drug we can use when someone gets sick," Dr. Le Duc said. “We're first looking at drugs that are already licensed and trying to see if they work for this virus.”

But the cost for all this work is not cheap. Right now, the Galveston National Lab is doing the work with its own internal funds until it gets some federal money.

"As you can imagine, it’s expensive to do this kind of work,” Dr. Le Duc said. “We're nonetheless investing heavily, because we see this as a national crisis and we need to be prepared."


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