Australian researchers said on Tuesday they have mapped the immune responses from one of country’s first coronavirus patients, findings the health minister said were an important step in developing a vaccine and treatment.
The coronavirus has infected more than 168,000 people worldwide and killed at least 6,610, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
While the bulk of those infected experience only mild symptoms, it is severe or critical in 20% of patients. The virus mortality rate is about 3.4%, the WHO has estimated.
As scientists scramble to develop a vaccine, researchers at Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said they had taken an important step in understanding the virus.
By examining the blood results from an unidentified woman in her 40s, they discovered that people’s immune systems respond to coronavirus in the same way it typically fights flu.
The findings help scientists understand why some patients recover while others develop more serious respiratory problems, the researchers said.