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Australian Lab Is The First International Group To Grow The Coronavirus

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Australian Lab Is The First International Group To Grow The Coronavirus

Australian scientists have become the first in the world, outside of China, to grow the potentially deadly coronavirus in a lab.

The breakthrough will give researchers a glimpse into how the virus grows and will hopefully give them a chance at developing a vaccine.

The ABC reports the new strain of the virus was grown at Melbourne's Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity from someone who had contracted it on Friday.

Credit: ABC
Credit: ABC
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It's being described as a 'game changer' and a massive progression in the fight against the virus, which has killed dozens of people and infected thousands more.

Mike Catton, the co-deputy director of the Doherty Institute, told the national broadcaster: "We got it. Fantastic.

"This virus qualifies as a three out of four, so it's a level three virus and that's based off our understanding of SARS (sudden acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome), which are its close cousins.

"It's dangerous, it does kill some people, but it hasn't got the lethality that viruses like Ebola do."

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Credit: ABC
Credit: ABC

The lab will now work with the World Health Organisation, which will make the lab-grown virus available to other institutions around the world, including one in Queensland.

The Doherty Institute has been a leader in the fight against the coronavirus in Australia, with the lab being used to second test results to declare whether someone is definitely infected or not.

Lead scientist Julian Druce said: "It's been 10-12 hour days, 2:00am finishes; so it's been pretty full on.

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The coronavirus under an electron microscope. Credit: CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy
The coronavirus under an electron microscope. Credit: CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy

"We've designed and planned for an exercise like this for many years. This is what the Doherty Institute was built for.

"And that's really why we're able to get an answer from Friday to today [of] diagnosis, detection, sequencing, and isolation."

In China, the first emergency medical centre has opened after just 48 hours of construction.

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Workers and volunteers in Huanggang City managed to put the work in to get the doors open on the Dabie Mountain Regional Medical Centre, which will provide treatment for around 1,000 patients, in just 48 hours.

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This facility, one of four emergency treatment bases being established by the authorities, was converted from an empty building.

The other facilities in nearby Wuhan - the epicentre of the viral outbreak - are being built from the ground up in a method similar to that used to combat the SARS outbreak of 2003.

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The Huanggang City authorities said that the work that was completed so quickly was thanks to the combined efforts of construction staff, paramilitary police officers, and utility companies.

This new building is in the city's Huangzhou District and was originally supposed to act as a brand new branch of the Huanggang Central Hospital until the new problems emerged and superseded that need.

It was originally scheduled to open in May, according to the local government.

Featured Image Credit: ABC

Topics: News, Australia

Stewart Perrie
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