According to the World Health Organization, a coronavirus vaccine could be available in 18 months. The agency also released an official name for the illness which has been declared a global health emergency: COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019.
The outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, late last year, has now spread to 24 countries. More than 43,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and 1,017 people have died in China, according to the latest WHO count. Two deaths outside of China have been reported, in the Philippines and Hong Kong.
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In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 13 cases across six states: Washington, California, Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois and Massachusetts. Other affected countries include Thailand, the United Kingdom and Italy.
Hundreds of scientists and health experts are currently meeting at the WHO headquarters in Geneva for a two-day forum to identify research priorities and prevent the spread of the virus.
WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on member states to be "as aggressive as possible" in addressing the virus, which he said should be viewed as "public enemy number one" in terms of public health issues.
"Harnessing the power of science is critical for bringing this outbreak under control," said Ghebreyesus. “There are questions we need answers to and tools we need developed as quickly as possible."