FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As the global death toll from the coronavirus exceeds more than 2,000, scientists around the world are working frantically to develop a vaccine, and some of the most important breakthroughs are happening in the Lone Star State.
Texans are doing important research to help stop the spread of the disease.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin recently made a critical discovery, creating the first 3D atomic scale map of the virus. It will help scientists develop a vaccine.
“That’s our ultimate goal is to have things ready and prepared and manufactured before new coronaviruses emerge,” said Jason McLellan, the associate professor at UT Austin who led the research team.
Other researchers are studying how the weather could impact the spread of the disease.
“What we found is yes, we could see fewer cases in the summertime, but that could then be followed by a second peak – possibly even a larger peak – in the winter of 2020,” said Dr. Emma Hodcroft, a researcher at the University of Basel in Switzerland who graduated from TCU in 2008.
Dr. Hodcroft says her research shows the need to stay vigilant, even if the number of coronavirus cases falls when it gets warmer.
“Particularly hospitals and our health care agencies should make sure we have plenty of tests on hands, plenty of resources, masks and equipment, so that if there is another rise in cases, we are more than prepared to handle it,” she said.
Her team also created an interactive website, so scientists can see how different strains of the virus are related to each other and how they’re spreading to other countries.
It marks a new level of real-time data sharing and analysis.
“This will all lead to more effective control measures, more effective ways of detecting the virus, and hopefully containing the spread,” Dr. Hodcroft said.
Everything scientists are learning now can also help prepare them for the future. Dr. Hodcroft says it’s inevitable we’ll see another viral outbreak at some point.