WASHINGTON — With worries about the coronavirus spreading nationally, the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is working on a vaccine to help combat the virus. 

At its Bethesda headquarters, NIAID will be working with a company called Moderna, who received a grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Their mission is to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases during an outbreak, according to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI is helping fund the grant money being used. 

Two other organizations, Inovia Pharmaceuticals and The University of Queensland, also received grants, according to CEPI.

"NIAID has mobilized a research response to 2019-nCoV that builds on experience with SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and other emerging pathogens," NIAID said in a statement about the grant. "NIAID has begun early stage development of an mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine for 2019-nCoV. mRNA vaccines direct the body’s cells to express a protein to elicit a broad immune response including high levels of neutralizing antibodies. The expressed protein is designed based on knowledge of the virus structure, but the platform does not contain live or inactivated virus. The mRNA platform can be quickly adapted and manufactured efficiently." 

While Moderna will develop the vaccine, NIAID will provide IND-enabling studies and a Phase 1 clinical study in the U.S.

NIAID has said that while it has started its work towards helping establish a vaccine, its availability in the coming months is not likely. 

The coronavirus has become such a concern that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said to avoid all non-essential travel to China.

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"NIAID and its industry partner Moderna anticipate the 2019-nCoV vaccine will be ready for the first stage of clinical testing in the coming months," NIAID said. "In a Phase 1 clinical trial, a vaccine is given to healthy volunteers to test if it is safe and induces an immune response. The vaccine would not be distributed in the outbreak in the coming months, as additional testing would need to be completed."

After two patients in Central Virgnia tested negative for Novel Coronavirus, George Mason University confirmed that a student, who does not live on campus, was being tested for the new strain of coronavirus. 

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The Maryland Department of Health confirmed Monday that a Maryland resident was being tested for Novel Coronavirus. The MDH reported that the individual met the CDC's criteria for testing, but is currently in good condition and being monitored.

A D.C. Health spokesperson confirmed that one individual in the District had been tested and their results came back negative, while two more patients were "under investigation for novel coronovirus infection." 

The respiratory outbreak was first detected in Wuhan, China caused by a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). 

No one in D.C., Maryland or Virginia has tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus.

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