There’s a vaccine that might protect against the new coronavirus stored in a freezer in Texas. Yes, that’s the virus that’s killed more than 500 people and infected nearly 30,000. And yes, the key word here is might.
The vaccine was developed by Peter Hotez, an infectious disease specialist at the Baylor College of Medicine, in the early 2010s. It was originally intended to vaccinate against severe acute respiratory syndrome, aka SARS, which is also a kind of coronavirus. It was shelved before it could get through clinical trials. SARS had long ago receded into the background, the epidemic having ended through hygiene efforts and environmental factors. Now, Hotez hopes to pull it out of the freezer for more testing, if he can secure funding. It’s possible that the new coronavirus is similar enough to SARS that the same antibodies, produced with a nudge from the vaccine, could latch onto the spiny crown of coronavirus receptors, essentially rendering the virus harmless.