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Vaccine against MERS likely by end of 2017

An effective vaccine to protect against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) would possibly be introduced by end of next year, said a senior official at the Ministry of Public Health yesterday. 

Several pharmaceutical companies conducting research on developing a vaccine against MERS-CoV, in a recent meeting with World Health Organization (WHO) and other stake holders including Qatar, revealed their findings, said Dr Mohammed Mohammed Al Hajri, Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response Department, Ministry of Public health. 

“We were meeting with the WHO where many pharmaceutical companies doing research on the vaccine were also present. There is a good progress in developing a vaccine against MERS-CoV. We learnt from their presentations that may be a vaccine will be introduced by end of 2017,” he said speaking on the sidelines of an infectious disease outbreak investigation course being held at the Marriot Marquis in Doha. 

“In every six months there are discussions between the WHO, pharmaceutical companies and the countries concerned including Qatar. The discussions also focus on the prevalence of the disease and whether there is a need for the vaccine,” he said. 

The economical aspect of introducing the vaccine and if the vaccine will benefit in eliminating or controlling the disease are also discussed during the meetings. 

MERS is viral respiratory illness that was recently recognized in humans. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to several other countries, including Qatar. Most people identified as infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In addition to humans, MERS-CoV has been found in camels in several countries. 

Since 2012 Qatar has reported more than 15 cases of confirmed cases of MERS-CoV including two this year.  

“In Qatar, since 2012 we have had relatively less cases of MERS-CoV. We had taken all needful measures to comabat an outbreak of the disease. We collaborated with Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat MERS-CoV. We were the first in the region to do research on MERS-CoV and collaborate with WHO,” said Dr Al Hajri. 

“Our transparency and willingness to prevent MERS-CoV helped us in combating the disease. We are still doing research , we try to find the original source of MERS-CoV,” he added. 
Globally, between September 2012 and February 2016 WHO has been notified of 1,769 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 630 related deaths.

Author: Fazeena Saleem    Source: thepeninsulaqatar

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