Doctors can test their patients for coronavirus infections by analyzing respiratory specimens and serum isolated from their blood, according to the CDC. The CDC has developed an equivalent diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus, but its accuracy and specificity for the virus are still being verified. Once confirmed, diagnostic kits will be distributed to health care facilities in the U.S. and abroad, according to a CDC news conference in January 2019.
There are no available treatments for any human coronavirus, according to the CDC. Those who catch a common coronavirus usually recover on their own and can ease the process by taking pain and fever medications, using a humidifier, taking hot showers, drinking plenty of fluids and staying home to rest. Similar regimens are used to relieve the symptoms of more severe coronavirus infections.
Several existing antiviral medications, originally intended to treat Ebola and malaria, may show some efficacy against the novel coronavirus, Live Science previously reported. These medications disable viruses by interfering with their attempts to replicate in host cells. Another class of drug, called "protease inhibitors," also shows promise against coronaviruses and helps to alert the immune system to viral invaders.
As of February 2019, no federally approved vaccines exist to prevent coronavirus infections.
Scientists developed a candidate vaccine for SARS during the pandemic of that virus, and a potential MERS vaccine recently performed well in preliminary clinical trials, but neither of these has hit the market. Research groups around the world are now racing to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus; the CDC aims to have such a vaccine ready for clinical trials within three months. If and when a vaccine is developed, however, health officials will have to evaluate how the outbreak has evolved before conducting further tests and eventually administering the vaccine.