As yet another coronavirus spreads around the globe, scientists are once again trying to develop new treatments and vaccines. Much remains unknown about this family of viruses. But we know that this is the third time in the last twenty years that a coronavirus has made the leap from animals to humans—severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in 2002, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in 2012, and the novel coronavirus in 2019. There are no proven treatments and vaccines effective against coronaviruses.
The latest “race” to develop new treatments and vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) highlights the critical importance of government-funded research. Since the SARS outbreak, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone has spent nearly $700 million on coronavirus R&D.