Coronavirus vaccine could be a year away: NIH

Clinical trials could take several months to start up

A vaccine for the type of coronavirus that has already killed six people in China could be a year away, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infection Diseases said.

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"The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine," Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, said according to CNN.

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Clinical trials could take several months to start up, and that would just be the first phase, Fauci said.

Chinese government expert Zhong Nanshan confirmed fears on state television late Monday that the new type of coronavirus can spread from human to human.

An airport staff member uses a temperature gun to check people leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

Six people have died and 291 have been infected in China, the National Health Commission said Tuesday.

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Concerned about a global outbreak similar to SARS, another coronavirus that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-2003, numerous nations have adopted screening measures for travelers from China, especially those arriving from Wuhan, the central city where the virus appears to have originated.

Guards at Wuhan's airport pointed electronic thermometers at travelers. Several online retailers were sold out of masks, which were being sold for more than 10 times their original price. Users of the popular Weibo social media platform urged others to wash their hands and stay home.

U.S. cities San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City are travel hubs for Asian countries.

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Outside the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where many of the coronavirus patients are receiving care, several workers were dressed in full-body biohazard suits, supplemented by goggles, masks and plastic wrapped around their shoes.

While many wore masks in Wuhan, streets were far from deserted and people appeared to be carrying on with their regular activities.

FOX Business' inquiry to NIAID was not immediately returned.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.