Global Virus Network (GVN) Experts Combat New Worldwide Coronavirus Outbreak

GVN stands by China and relevant international organizations to support efforts to mitigate the new strain of coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, January 30, 2020: As airlines suspend flights, countries evacuate citizens from China and nearly 60 million Chinese experience a lockdown, the Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 53 Centers of Excellence and 9 Affiliates in 32 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and some animals, will stand by China and relevant international organizations to support efforts to mitigate the new strain of coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, originating from Wuhan, China. The outbreak, which causes respiratory illness, originated in a seafood and meat market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million, and likely jumped to humans from bats. 2019-nCoV has spread to other global regions, including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, The Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, United States and Vietnam. As of Thursday, January 30, 6:00 AM ET according to Chinese authorities there are nearly 8,000 infected and 170 dead, while the rest of the world reports more than 110 confirmed cases outside of China.

“Many members of the GVN are initiating various projects regarding diagnostics, vaccine and therapeutics to combat this rapidly expanding, novel, outbreak,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN, and a Professor at the University of South Florida. “We support current organizations such as the World Health Organization and stand ready to serve as global first-responders to this dangerous virus and operate as an international clearinghouse to educate, inform and disseminate critical information to governments, health organizations, healthcare practitioners and the public-at-large.”

On January 23, after Chinese researchers published the sequence of 2019-nCoV, a GVN partner, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), announced that it will fund three vaccine initiatives with $12.5 million. One of those recipients includes GVN Center of Excellence, the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centere at the University of Queensland (UQ).

“The University of Queensland’s molecular clamp technology provides stability to the viral protein that is the primary target for our immune defense,” said Keith Chappell, PhD, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at UQ, Australia. “The technology has been designed as a platform approach to generate vaccines against a range of human and animal viruses and has shown promising results in the laboratory targeting viruses such as influenza, Ebola, Nipah and MERS coronavirus.”

Other GVN researchers are sourcing their MERS and SARS coronavirus expertise to advance vaccine development for this new outbreak. “With our experience and novel contributions to the MERS and SARS outbreaks as well as the deadly zoonosis influenza viruses, H7N7 and H5N1, we are working to develop a vaccine against this new, novel coronavirus,” said Ab Osterhaus, PhD, DVM, Director, The Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonosis (RIZ), University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany, Center Director, Global Virus Network (GVN) CEO, Artemis One Health Foundation, Germany.

Linfa Wang, PhD, Director, Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School, Center Director, Global Virus Network (GVN), Singapore, is developing diagnostics for 2019-nCoV with collaborators in China. Dr. Wang, who sequenced and named Australia’s bat-borne Hendra virus more than 25 years ago, believes the deadly new coronavirus “appears to be more infectious than the 2003 SARS coronavirus.” Further he warns, “Despite the possibility for criticisms of an overreaction, it is imperative that we act quickly and effectively, as the alternative of an underreaction could potentially lead to more deaths worldwide.”

“The use of human ACE2 2019-nCoV is now confirmed by multiple actual viral isolates from the laboratory of Zhengli Shi, PhD, who is the director of center for infectious disease at Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and who was responsible for identifying many of the bat SARS-like CoV in the past ten years,” said Benhur Lee, MD, Professor of Microbiology, Member, Global Virus Network (GVN), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA. “I believe that all symptomatic people with or without cough is potentially contagious with this new novel virus as Shi’s research shows virus-specific IgM being detected in patients one week post-symptoms onset; the finding that most patients have neutralizing IgG+ antibodies by two weeks post-symptoms; patients as having cough/chest congestion with high virial loads; and, one 2019-nCoV virus positive patient as having fever as the only symptom.”

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions.  It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 53 Centers of Excellence and 9 Affiliates in 32 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them.  No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:
Nora Samaranayake, GVN
410-706-8614
nsamaranayake@gvn.org