The National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine against the new virus that has infected hundreds and killed four in Asia.
"The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reports CNN.Fauci said it would take a few months until the first phase of the clinical trials get underway and more than a year until a vaccine might be available.
The virus, which was first reported at the end of December, has infected more than 200 people, according to a Chinese government-appointed expert. The bulk of the cases have been in China, but there have been four cases in Thailand, South Korea and Japan.
The virus originated in animals and can be spread from person to person. While most of the patients visited an animal and seafood market in Wuhan, a city about 700 miles south of Beijing, some did not.
This new virus is a coronavirus, which is the same family as the virus that causes SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which was first reported in Asia in 2003 and killed more than 700 people. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, which has killed more than 800 people since 2012, is also caused by a coronavirus.