March 2, 2020 / 5:27 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. military labs working to develop coronavirus vaccine -top U.S. general

(Adds general’s quote, details on protective gear and test kits for military)

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) - U.S. government military laboratories are working to develop a vaccine for the fast-spreading coronavirus, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday.

“The military labs are in fact working very consistently, not only on that vaccine but all kinds of things,” General Mark Milley said at a Pentagon briefing. “So we’ll see how that develops over the next couple of months.”

He said one of the labs was in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Top U.S. health officials have said any vaccine is up to 18 months away and there is no treatment for the respiratory disease, although patients can receive supportive care.

Protective gear and test kits are being distributed to U.S. military facilities with a priority on distribution to the Korean Peninsula, Milley said. South Korea reported 599 new cases on Monday, taking its national tally to 4,335. There have been 26 deaths.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has ticked up in recent days, with more than 75 confirmed cases including two reported deaths.

Authorities across the United States prepared for more cases of illness caused by the new coronavirus with the emphasis on ratcheting up the number of available test kits. (Reporting by Idrees Ali, Phil Stewart and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Franklin Paul and Grant McCool)

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