Friday, December 09, 2016

Saudi MOH Website Offline - MOE Announces Experimental MERS Vaccine Tests


After reporting 17 MERS cases in less than 2 weeks, the Saudi MOH website (in both English & Arabic) has been down for nearly 24 hours, meaning we've not seen an update since December 7th.  

Saudi MOH Error Msg

 Hopefully they'll get this issue resolved later today.

In the meantime, the Saudi Press Agency has issued a brief announcement on the Ministry of Environment's plans to test a vaccine (presumably on camels).

Ministry of Environment Announces Test of New Vaccination for Corona
Friday 1438/3/10 - 2016/12/09

Riyadh, Rabi'I 10, 1438, Dec 9, 2016, SPA -- The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has announced a test of new vaccination for Corona in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within joint efforts of King Abdullah International Medical Research Center at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Qassim University and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

This step came within the ministry's continuous seek to follow the Middle East respiratory syndrome "Corona" in the animal and implement its plans with the relevant authorities in order to prevent transmission of the virus to the human.
14:14 LOCAL TIME 11:14 GMT

Curiously, the Ministry of Environment's Website  hasn't yet posted anything (it's last news item is also dated Dec 7th). Nevertheless, the Arabic media is flooded with reports on this story, and these stories are being retweeted furiously on twitter.

Typical is this translated report, from, which while longer, is still short on specifics.

The Ministry of Environment» announces new vaccine for «Corona»

The Ministry of Environment and Water and Agriculture announced that it was the experience of a new vaccine for the first time in the UK against the "Corona" Middle East respiratory syndrome within the joint efforts with King Abdullah International Medical Research Center at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, and the University of Qassim, and the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

The move comes as part of the ongoing pursuit of the ministry to track the status of "Corona" Middle East respiratory syndrome in the animal, and the ongoing implementation of the plan in coordination with other concerned authorities to prevent transmission of the virus to humans.

Said Undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water and Agriculture livestock Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Bathan, that the ministry has in the past period to conduct tests on the herds of camels in various regions of the Kingdom, and has been proven to have a continued presence of antibodies to the virus, respiratory Middle East syndrome (CoV - MERS) at high rates in camels, as demonstrated by tests secretion of some camels to Corona virus corresponding to the virus that causes respiratory syndrome Middle East (MERS) in man, by as much as 76.3% of the camels that have been examined in a number of camels and slaughterhouses markets.

He called Bathan, contacts camels to take the necessary precautions, including the use of custom to handle and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and use a disinfectant clothes after coming out of the barns, taking into account other precautions that have already clarified by the ministry, stressing the importance of the slaughter of animals in the official slaughterhouses under veterinary supervision.

The gist of this report is that MERS is rife in camels, and that contacts should take precautions to avoid the virus (both things we already knew), tempered by news of an `experimental vaccine' being tested. 

It is can be a long path from testing an experimental vaccine to deploying it, in any meaningful way, into the field. And that assumes the tests are successful, which is not always a given. 

Although there is a near-celebratory mood on twitter over this story, without more details, it is difficult to gauge how far away a genuine vaccine solution really is. 

No comments: