Scientists in Australia say they have identified how the body's immune system fights the Covid-19 virus.
The research by Melbourne's Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity has been praised by other experts, with one calling it "a breakthrough".
Their research, published in Nature Medicine journal on Tuesday, shows people are recovering from the new virus like they would from the flu.
Determining which immune cells are appearing should also help with vaccine development, experts say.
Globally, authorities have confirmed more than 160,000 cases of the coronavirus and about 6,500 deaths.
"This [discovery] is important because it is the first time where we are really understanding how our immune system fights novel coronavirus," said study co-author Prof Katherine Kedzierska.
Health minister says the findings are an important step in developing a vaccine and treatment for the virus.
As scientists scramble to develop a vaccine, researchers at Australia's Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said they had taken an important step in understanding the virus by mapping the immune responses from one of country's first coronavirus patients.
By examining the blood results from an unidentified woman in her 40s, they discovered that people's immune systems respond to coronavirus in the same way it typically fights flu.
The findings are an important step in developing a vaccine and treatment, the country's health minister said on Tuesday regarding the virus which has more than 168,000 people worldwide and killed at least 6,610.
While the bulk of those infected experience only mild symptoms, it is severe or critical in 20 percent of patients. The virus mortality rate is about 3.4 percent, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated.
The findings help scientists understand why some patients recover while others develop more serious respiratory problems, the researchers said.
"People can use our methods to understand the immune responses in larger COVID-19 cohorts, and also understand what's lacking in those who have fatal outcomes," said Katherine Kedzierska, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne, which took part in the research.
Credit: International Media