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Coronavirus in Texas

UT-Austin researcher explains lab's key role in coronavirus vaccine development

We visited the University of Texas at Austin's McLellan Lab, where scientists have made a critical breakthrough toward developing a vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Coronavirus in Texas

Get the latest updates on coronavirus in Texas here. At least 90 Texans’ deaths have been linked to COVID-19, and at least 5,330 people have been diagnosed with the disease. Hospitals are adding more beds, while medical professionals and state leaders are urging Texans to socially distance themselves from others. The state is testing thousands of people a day, but it is often taking longer than a week for Texans to get those results. Learn more about how to get tested here. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Texans are without work as unemployment claims overload the state’s systems. And schools across the state are closed at least until May 4.  



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Jason McLellan, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has studied coronaviruses for years. When COVID-19 popped up in China at the end of last year, he began leading researchers to develop the first 3D atomic scale of the part of the virus, known as the spike protein, that attaches to and infects human cells. Mapping this part, which his team completed last month, is an essential step for researchers around the world to develop vaccines and antiviral drugs to combat the virus.

We caught up with McLellan in his lab to discuss vaccine development and the threat COVID-19 poses compared with other coronaviruses.

Jake Sam contributed to this report.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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