Experts scramble, but new virus vaccine may not come in time

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The flu-like virus that exploded from China has researchers worldwide once again scrambling to find a vaccine against a surprise health threat, with no guarantee one will arrive in time.

Just days after Chinese scientists shared the genetic map of the culprit coronavirus, researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health had engineered a possible key ingredient for a vaccine they hope to begin testing by April.

Scientists from Australia to France, along with a list of biotech and vaccine companies, jumped in the race, pursuing different types of inoculations.

And Texas researchers froze an experimental vaccine developed too late to fight an earlier coronavirus SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome but are pushing U.S. and Chinese authorities to give it a try this time around.

Because the new virus is a close cousin of SARS, it just might protect, said Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

All that work is coming at lightning speed compared to past outbreaks. Yet many experts agree it still may take a year if every step along the way goes well  for any vaccine to be ready for widespread use. That’s if it’s even needed by then.