Health officials in Washington state said Monday that four more people have died of the new
Coronavirus kills 6 in Washington state
The disease has killed more than 3,000 people globally and infected almost 89,000, with the vast majority of cases and deaths in China. While the number of new cases recorded daily in that epicenter country has declined for weeks, the virus continues spreading fast in South Korea, Iran and Italy, prompting increased travel warnings and restrictions.
While their research has yet to be peer-reviewed, a team of scientists in Washington said the state’s two deaths could be the tip of an iceberg: They said hundreds of more people in King County, where Seattle is located, may already have been exposed to the disease.
The potential for mild or even asymptomatic cases to go undetected but still spread the virus has been noted repeatedly by health officials as one of the biggest challenges in fighting the disease. It makes the virus a deceptive enemy, and in spite of assurances from officials that the risk to the general public is low, the stockpiling and a week of stock market losses show that, like the disease itself, fear is still spreading.
Head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease cautions a vaccine is still at least a year out
President Trump on Monday held a meeting with members of the coronavirus task force and pharmaceutical executives to discuss plans for containment of the disease and the development of a vaccine. Mr. Trump appeared optimistic that a vaccine could be developed within the next few months, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, clarified it would still be a year to a year and a half before one could be made available to the public.
“I like the sound of a couple of months better,” Mr. Trump said.
A vaccine could be ready for phase one testing as early as June, according to the executives present for the meeting. If all goes well in phase one, a vaccine would then still need to go through two more rounds of testing.
“Vaccines have to be tested because there’s precedent for vaccines to actually make diseases worse,” said Dr. Leonard Schleifer, CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.