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COVID-19: The Hunt for a Coronavirus Vaccine Updated: 2020-04-07 15:32:52 KST

The World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus epidemic is "far from over" in the Asia-Pacific region urging governments to prepare for mass infections - a warning of a renewed crisis in countries where the situation appears to be under control.
The search is well under way for a vaccine against the coronavirus that could prove a route out of the current crisis.

"Our KCDC Institute of Health has plans to carry out serological research including antibody tests for COVID-19 and has produced virus-like particles as vaccine candidates for COVID-19."

Despite scientists working all hours to develop an effective drug, however, we are still likely to be at least a year off from a mass immunization program.
The hunt for a coronanvirus vaccine: It's the topic of our News In-depth tonight with Dr. Ogan Gurel, a Medical Doctor himself, currently serving as chief medical officer for Psomagen USA, a division of Macrogen and Visiting Professor at DGIST.
Dr. Gurel, welcome to the program.

Give us your take on the success seen in South Korea especially given how there was a real fear at the beginning of this crisis on how quickly it was spreading in the country?

The South Korean government has said it must not rest and pause. What's your view on the risk of a second wave not only in South Korea, but in other parts of the world?

Coronavirus patients are showing a wide range of symptoms as well as severity and the exact reason why is still a mystery.
For some, it's deadly; for others, it's more respiratory while some have confessed having diarrhea like symptoms. Meanwhile, there are patients who have tested positive for the virus but report mild symptoms or none at all.
So why does the coronavirus affect people in such different ways?

It was recently reported here in South Korea that 51 patients who had recovered from Covid-19 later tested positive. This so-called re-infection has been somewhat of a controversy. What are your thoughts on this?

The U.S. CDC has begun testing blood for immunity against coronavirus.
This test is supposed to show if someone has been infected, recovered and is immune and thus potentially rejoining public life. What are your thoughts on how this antibody test may play a role going forward?

Let's talk about treatment and vaccine. There has been much talk, including by the U.S. President Donald Trump about hydroxychloroqine, an anti-malarial drug as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Is there any conclusive evidence that this works?

A tuberculosis vaccine invented a century ago (the BCG vaccine), which is cheap and safe seems to bolster the body's immune system.
There has been some discussion of this being used with Covid-19. What are your thoughts on this?

It looks like public health measures, even the most draconian containment strategies have only slowed the spread of Covid-19. Everyone now looks to the prospect of a vaccine. Given the long approval process for vaccines, some say up to 18 months, are we anywhere near a vaccine for this novel coronavirus? Is there hope of securing a vaccine and rolling that out to the population in time for this pandemic?

There have been reports of the virus mutating. What good will the vaccine be if the virus mutates?

I was surprised to learn that we don't have vaccines for SARS or MERS. Does this hint at a problem in vaccine development for the novel coronavirus?

Dr. Ogan Gurel, Visiting Professor at DGIST and chief medical officer for Psomagen/Macrogen, many thanks for your valuable insights tonight. We appreciate it.
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