A microbiology lab at Imperial’s St Mary’s campus is at the centre of a scientific race to develop a vaccine against a global viral outbreak.
Led by Professor Robin Shattock, from the Department of Infectious Disease, the Imperial team is one of only a handful of research groups in the world currently working to create a viable vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
Since emerging at the end of last year, the virus (called ‘2019-nCoV’) has spread beyond the limits of Wuhan city in China’s Hubei province, causing hundreds of deaths in China and leading to confirmed cases in 24 countries around the world – including two in the UK.
According to Professor Shattock, the difference between this vaccine effort and that of previous outbreaks, such as the SARS outbreak in 2002, is that a vaccine could potentially be produced much faster than conventional methods.
“We have the technology to develop a vaccine with a speed that’s never been realised before,” he explains.