Canadian Researchers Have Isolated the Novel Coronavirus

The medical breakthrough means doctors are a step closer to a vaccine for COVID-19.
March 13, 2020, 2:48pm
Team of scientists
Left to right: Dr. Robert Kozak, Dr. Samira Mubareka, Dr. Arinjay Banerjee worked together to isolate the agent responsible for COVID-19. Photo via Sunnybrook Research Institute

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

A team of Ontario researchers have isolated the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the world one step closer to a vaccine.

Researchers from the Sunnybrook Research Institute, the University of Toronto, and McMaster University collaborated to isolate and grow copies of the virus.

Now, scientists worldwide can use the isolated the bug (known clinically as SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for COVID-19, to develop better testing and treatment, in addition to a vaccine.

“We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic,” said Sunnybrook researcher Samira Mubareka. “Longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus.”

According to the McMaster contributor, Arinjay Banerjee, until a virus is tracked down and manipulated, research capabilities are limited.

“You can’t validate anything without a virus,” Banerjee said in a McMaster post.

COVID-19, the flu-like illness caused by the coronavirus, has affected almost than 125,000 people in more than 114 countries, according to the World Health Organization. There are more than 100 cases in Canada, including the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and public health authorities expect to see more in the coming days. Schools and public gathering places like museums are being shut down internationally to limit spread.

A vaccine that’s safe to use still isn’t expected for about 12 to 24 months, so people around the world are encouraged to wash their hands frequently and self-isolate to prevent further virus spread.

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