Following the widely-covered outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced a “multi-pronged” response, setting out to develop a vaccine candidate to tackle the global health threat.

The company has initiated efforts to broadly collaborate with others in order to screen a library of antiviral therapies, hoping to identify compounds with antiviral activity against the virus – which is also known as 2019-nCoV or Wuhan coronavirus.

Using its AdVac and PER.C6 technologies - the same technologies that were used in the development and manufacturing of Janssen's investigational Ebola vaccine - J&J has revealed plans to try and rapidly upscale production of the optimal vaccine candidate.

The BBC has reported that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has now risen to 170, and a confirmed case in Tibet means it has reached every region in mainland China.

As a result, The World Health Organisation (WHO) will meet again on Thursday to consider whether the virus constitutes an official global health emergency.

J&J will also review the known pathways in coronavirus pathophysiology to determine whether previously tested medicines can be used to help patients survive an infection.

“Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and globally is WHO’s highest priority,” said Dr Tedros, director-general of WHO. “We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, including sharing data and genetic sequence of the virus.

“WHO is working closely with the government on measures to understand the virus and limit transmission. WHO will keep working side-by-side with China and all other countries to protect health and keep people safe.”

In additional efforts to move forward vaccine development, Janssen has donated 300 boxes of its HIV medication Prezcobix (darunavir/cobicistat) to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University for use in research.