Coronavirus: Possible COVID-19 could become a seasonal virus - Chinese scientists

Scientists in China believe COVID-19 could become a seasonal virus and be around for some time yet.

Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' Institute of Pathogen Biology director Jin Qi says the best way to control the virus is through the development of drugs and a vaccine, with experts saying it's unlikely for the virus to disappear even with summer approaching in the Northern Hemisphere.

Jin explains there are differences between the 2003 SARS pandemic, which largely disappeared during summer months, and COVID-19.

"People infected with SARS had clear symptoms of fever that we could efficiently identify and control," he told a briefing on Monday, as reported by China Daily.

"However, for COVID-19, there may be people who are presymptomatic, have mild symptoms, are asymptomatic or have other types of conditions.

"It is possible that COVID-19 will become seasonal and stay with us for a long time."

According to Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention virologist Liu Peipei, many countries are working together to locate "patient zero" which would help with control and prevention planning.

He said the likelihood of COVID-19 being man-made was "very low", China Daily reports.

Back in New Zealand, infectious disease specialist David Murdoch, from the University of Otago, believes a vaccine for COVID-19 is between 12 and 18 months away.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization revealed its three leading candidates in the race to find a vaccine; the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in partnership with Hong Kong's CanSino Biological Inc and US biotechnology companies Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Moderna.