In just three months time, they likely will be testing the first of a number of potential experimental vaccines against the new SARS-like coronavirus that is spreading in China and beyond.

“I told them, ‘you are going to have your baptism of fire, folks’,” Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within NIH, said of his inaugural address to the group this week.

Three months from gene sequence to initial human testing would be the fastest the agency has ever gotten such a vaccine off the ground, Fauci said.