The world needs an anti coronavirus drug as soon as possible—and there is something the United States government can do right now to achieve that.

STAT News recently reported that most big pharma companies have been reluctant to join the search for a vaccine that treats 2019-nCoV, the new coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China and has quickly spread around the globe. Given that the costs of vaccine manufacturing tend to run high—and the chances of profit, much lower—their lack of interest was to be expected.

But there is a bigger issue at play. While 2019-nCoV may be the disease making headlines today, coronaviruses as a whole present a much more formidable threat to human health. This is the third coronavirus, after SARS and MERS, to attack us, and we’ll no doubt be hit again. Big pharma should be focused on finding a drug to prevent and treat the family of coronaviruses. Instead, they’ve taken a back seat.

Our government leaders could change that.

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Originally published on Forbes (January 31, 2020)