This is not a vaccine for the 2019 coronavirus

10 March 2020
What was claimed

A coronavirus vaccine for cows shows that the virus behind the current outbreak is not new.

Our verdict

This is a different coronavirus from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can affect a range of species.

A post shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims that a vaccine for cows that treats coronavirus has been available for years and that therefore the virus is not new.

There are a number of inaccuracies here.

Firstly, coronavirus is a term for a large family of viruses, which can infect a range of species. The vaccination in this image is for a strain that affects cattle, bovine coronavirus. This causes diarrhoea in calves.

The coronavirus at the centre of the 2019/2020 epidemic is known as SARS-CoV-2 and causes the disease known as Covid-19, which primarily affects the respiratory system. While coronaviruses as a family have been known about since the 1960s, this particular strain of human coronavirus is new, and no vaccine for it exists yet.

Scientists are currently developing a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. All vaccine candidates are currently in the preclinical stage, and therefore will not be available in the immediate future.

Update 10 March 2020

We changed the headline of this piece after publication to make it clear we were speaking about a vaccine.

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