Towards a #MERS Vaccine? Who is the target?

Helen Branswell has recently published Camel vaccine against MERS could slow human to camel infections.

In its 10th meeting hold on september 3rd, IHR Emergency Committee of WHO addressed a couple of things related to vaccine:

WHO Statement on 10th meeting IHR/EC

  • International collaboration to develop human and animal vaccines and therapeutics should be accelerated.

Laboratories have launched their battle-field researchers in order to be the first to produce a vaccine against MERS; whatever the vaccine would be?


Since 2012, Virology and Epidemiology have brought on the table a lot of information about the virus itself, a coronavirus, same family of SARS virus.

As of today we know how MERS is operating as an infectious disease, hosted by dromadary camels mainly in Middle-East (>90% infected), starting by a zoonosis then spreading human to human through clusters in household or nosocomial infection in the hospitals.

Two kinds of infected (by Mers-Cov) population have emerged in KSA:

  • symptomatic:either elderly or People with underlying poor medical conditions or chronic diseases including but not limited to diabetes,chronic renal failure, cardio-respiratory diseases or immunosuppressed
  • asymptomatic:healthy carriers

Root causes,mitigations and prevention of MERS-CoV_2015

Identifying healthy carriers, asymptomatic ones is based on positive testing, sometimes in link with health risks exposure like camels herds owners, slaughterhouse workers, or health care workers (HCW). Even if prevalence is quite low, we have identified a life cycle for Mers infection and outbreaks (see chart).

It is not the purpose here to review the conditions for nosocomial outbreak at the hospitals; see: Follow-up of the nosocomial #MERS outbreak in Riyadh,KSA

Knowing that, how could we prevent MERS from spreading both at community hospital level and at household level? Would it be realistic to vaccine the entire KSA population or only People at high risks? Would such a vaccination program prevent actually MERS from spreading?

Or do we focus on the source of MERS Coronavirus, I mean dromadary camels and manly young calves under 5 years old? It would make more sense with a long lasting and sustainable outcome to prevent Mers coronavirus from jumping outside of animal to human; in other words to prevent a zoonosis?

The answer seems obviously understood in the question…KSA MOH is supporting and sponsoring the idea of an animal vaccine by working hard on this issue.

Riyadh’s #MERS outbreak diary and Hajj

Update on November 12th 2015

Today, one secondary case in Riyadh, after 8 days free of MERS, due to contact with infected HCW. The previous one was a primary case on November 3rd.

On November 2nd, one primary case reported in Afif.

A new cluster occured in Hufoof. In fact a nosocomial MERS Outbreak!

  • 8 cases as of today (Oct.29th), including HCW. Not the first time in that location where ocurred a nosocomial outbreak some time ago…

On October 17th, one case in Dawadmi, west of Riyadh. One month ago, 1 case (without previous contact) on September 9th in Dawadmi;

On October 24th, an expat, male, positive for MERS; primary case in Alkharj.

  1. Hajj: hundred of deaths during stampede in Mina: More than 1800 Pilgrims died. This raised the question about Health and safety during the Hajj. The worse record related to Hajj…
  2. Third birthday of MERS; take the time to read the review by Dr Mackay’s Blog called VDU (Virology Down Under):Happy Birthday MERS-Coronavirus!
  3. One month ago, we learned there was an ongoing nosocomial Mers outbreak at KAMC hospital.
    • Total Mers cases in August = 112 cases in Riyadh.
    • Total Mers cases in September = 43. 
    • Total Mers cases in October = 12

Is the nosocomial outbreak in KAMC-R under containment? Seems to be over now.

October starts with one new case in Nora University, Riyadh. After one week free of Mers,on october 10th another case has been recorded. On Oct.11th, a new one. On Oct.13th another one.

The last 3 ones are young expat ladies, non HCW =>A new cluster? I guess so by adding the third case reported today, another young expat lady. No more doubt to declare there is an outbreak in Expat community of the young Ladies.

On October 15th, MOH has posted a brief statement acknowledging the cluster, emphasizing these are ex-pat workers housed away from the university, and confirming additional members of the housing complex are under house quarantine.

KAMC hospital

In the last release by WHO on August 26th, it is stipulated that a second smaller medical facility in Riyadh reports another nosocomial outbreak. So far, two main hospitals are closed in Riyadh due to Mers outbreak. It is surprising to record new HCW cases; the onset around 14 days mean that HCW have been infected/contaminated while nosocomial outbreak occurring despite precautionary and mitigation measures. Still concerning…for containment and ICP in Riyadh.

Hajj Mecca

Remember this? On thursday Aug 27th, There was a suspicion for a new cluster in Jeddah and rumors that the National Guard Hospital has closed following 5 Mers cases (not confirmed).

On Saturday 9/12, one positive case of Mers for a HCW in Jeddah; on September 18th, 1 Mers case recorded.  Today, another case. At least 3 recent cases close to holy city Mecca. Low but continuous pace in this area; might be sporadic cases but no link reported…background sound spread?

One suspected case moved in August from Madinah to Riyadh as a precautionary measure…we know why now! On September 7th, one new case + another one (HCW) on Sept.10th. On 9/11, 3 new cases (with 2 HCW who were transferred to KAMC-R ) reported in Madinah. On Sunday 9/13, one more case (HCW) and today (9/14) another one

  • Total= 8 cases . Very concerning with 4 HCW infected…(50%).


Outside of KSA,

  • Jordan: Since mi-August, 16 cases in the same hospital in Amman, including 7 deaths .First case described as coming from KSA (Jeddah). No more doubt; There is one MERS nosocomial outbreak in Amman, confirmed by WHO. No Hajj Piligrims infected so far…
  • Kuwait: One fatality case who was tested positive on September 14th and’ reported on 20th.
  • No recent news and update about these two countries…

Interesting review by Ian Mackay on the occurence of MERS in KSA:

Where do these ‘primary’ MERS cases come from?

MERS Statistics by @MackayIM

To learn more, refer to: Towards a #MERS vaccine? Who is the target?