Emergence of Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: Need for Rapid Vaccine and Biologics Development

Pathogens. 2020 Feb 22;9(2):148. doi: 10.3390/pathogens9020148.


Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is an emerging pathogen that was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. This virus is responsible for the ongoing outbreak that causes severe respiratory illness and pneumonia-like infection in humans. Due to the increasing number of cases in China and outside China, the WHO declared coronavirus as a global health emergency. Nearly 35,000 cases were reported and at least 24 other countries or territories have reported coronavirus cases as early on as February. Inter-human transmission was reported in a few countries, including the United States. Neither an effective anti-viral nor a vaccine is currently available to treat this infection. As the virus is a newly emerging pathogen, many questions remain unanswered regarding the virus's reservoirs, pathogenesis, transmissibility, and much more is unknown. The collaborative efforts of researchers are needed to fill the knowledge gaps about this new virus, to develop the proper diagnostic tools, and effective treatment to combat this infection. Recent advancements in plant biotechnology proved that plants have the ability to produce vaccines or biopharmaceuticals rapidly in a short time. In this review, the outbreak of 2019-nCoV in China, the need for rapid vaccine development, and the potential of a plant system for biopharmaceutical development are discussed.

Keywords: biopharmaceuticals; coronavirus; emerging threat; infectious diseases; plant system; transient expression; viruses; zoonoses.

Publication types

  • Review