Scientists in Australia have become the first to recreate the new coronavirus outside of China in what they have called a “significant breakthrough.”
The discovery will be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the hope that it can help efforts to diagnose and treat the virus.
Scientists in China also recreated the virus and shared its genome sequence, but not the virus itself.
The outbreak killed 132 people in China and infected about 6,000.
There are at least 47 confirmed cases in 16 other countries, including Thailand, France, the United States and Australia. No deaths have been reported outside of China.
Researchers at a specialized laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, said they were able to obtain a copy of the virus from an infected patient. The sample was sent to you last Friday.
“We have planned an incident like this for many, many years and that is really the reason why we were able to get an answer so quickly,” said Dr. Mike Catton of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infections and Immunity.
Hope for ‘game changer’
Doctors said the copy could be used as “control material” for the tests and “will be an element of change for the diagnosis.”
That could involve an early diagnostic test that could detect the virus in people who have not shown symptoms.
The Chinese authorities have said that the virus, like a normal flu, can spread during its incubation period.
But WHO has said it is unclear if it is contagious before symptoms appear.
“An antibody test will allow us to retrospectively evaluate suspicious patients so that we can obtain a more accurate picture of how widespread the virus is and, consequently, among other things, the true mortality rate,” said Dr. Catton.
“It will also help in evaluating the effectiveness of test vaccines.”
According to the WHO, the incubation period can vary from two to 10 days.
In recent days, the number of virus cases in China has increased rapidly, even though the authorities struggled to contain its spread.
The Chinese authorities have taken comprehensive measures to effectively block Wuhan in Hubei province, where the virus originated, and surrounding cities.