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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Beijing said HIV medication was being given to coronavirus patients.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has started developing vaccines for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), an official with the center said Sunday.
The CDC has isolated the virus and is currently identifying seed strain, said Xu Wenbo, head of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention under the CDC, adding that they are also screening drugs targeting pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.
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Xu told reporters at a press conference in Beijing that researchers had used high-throughput genetic sequencing to identify pathogens one day after the first four samples were sent from Wuhan on January 2, South China Morning Post reported.
Beijing announced on Sunday that some of the hospitals were giving patients infected with the Wuhan coronavirus medication used to treat HIV - in a bid to stop the spread.
"Online rumours say that an anti-Aids drug has been used and proved to be effective in treating the coronavirus," according to a statement by Beijing Municipal Health Commission.
"The National Health Commission has recommended the rumored names to treat the coronavirus before and we have Lopinavir/Ritonavir in stock in Beijing,"
Three Beijing hospitals designated to treat confirmed coronavirus cases - Beijing Ditan Hospital, Beijing Youan Hospital, and No 5 Medical Center of PLA General Hospital - have begun using this therapy for treatment, the statement added.
On Saturday, Zhong Nanshan, head of an expert team established by the Beijing government to contain the outbreak, told the official Guangzhou Daily that drugs to treat the Wuhan coronavirus were available and safe, "but their effectiveness will need to be observed".
However, he added that early detection and quarantine was still the best preventive method as of now.
(With inputs from Xinhua and South China Morning Post)
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