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Live Coronavirus samples now at Tulane's Primate Center on Northshore for research

They'll first develop an animal model of the disease and infect nonhuman primates to answer the many unknowns.

COVINGTON, La. — Live samples of the Coronavirus have officially arrived to the Northshore, where researchers at Tulane's Primate Center will try to find solutions to the virus. 

"This is a global health crisis," Dr. Skip Bohm, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer at Tulane National Primate Research Center. 

Researches are working to tackle it. A live sample of the Coronavirus was brought to the primate center Wednesday.

"Which will be used to look at a lot of the questions that are still wide open," Bohm said. 

Bohm is part of a team of about 10 scientists trying to answer unknowns about the Coronavirus. They'll first develop an animal model of the disease and infect nonhuman primates to answer the many unknowns like how it's spread, how it progresses, and if some people more susceptible.

"The only way to answer those questions is to use an animal model," he said. 

While researches are hoping to answer these big questions about the Coronavirus, one of the main goals is to develop a vaccine that eventually could prevent it from spreading.

"We can start testing vaccines almost immediately," Bohm said. 

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While the project will start soon, finding a vaccine could take one to three years. 

"Once we show that it's safe and works in animals, then it has to move on to human clinical trials," Bohm said. 

All of the research will be conducted in the Regional Biocontainment Lab.

"There are very few places in the country that have the facilities the expertise that we do," said Dr. Jay Rappaport, Director of Tulane National Primate Research Center. 

While having the Coronavirus in our backyard may be unsettling, the lab has strict containment. The researchers will use protective equipment and they'll all be tested regularly. 

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"The level of containment that we're working with this is actually higher than required," he said. 

The researchers say there is no public threat. 

"The public should feel comfortable that the way we will conduct this research is the safest way possible," Bohm said. 

The project is paid for by a grant from the Brown Foundation and they're also working to secure federal funding.

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