Jun 11 2014
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An in-depth look at the deadly MERS coronavirus
This week, Nature Middle East released a comprehensive and in-depth Special on the emerging virus, exploring how the novel coronavirus was first discovered in a small laboratory in Saudi Arabia, to efforts to contain the spread of the virus and how likely it is to become an epidemic.
"With no vaccines or antivirals, reminiscent of the SARS tragedy, there is a growing fear of a new viral pandemic," says Islam Hussein, a researcher and virologist at MIT, Massachusetts.
Since it was first identified in a small laboratory attached to a private hospital in Jeddah, the virus has spread to almost every continent across the globe.
Professionals in the region have played down the likelihood of an imminent danger of a MERS epidemic even in countries, like Egypt, with a poor history of viral control. However the region is still vulnerable, especially with the Hajj and Ummrah seasons approaching, when millions from around the world head to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.
Researchers are scrambling for an antiviral that can control the coronavirus, hoping to have a line of defence should it mutate to become more dangerous. While they have identified several antibodies and a molecule that can kill the coronavirus, producing a vaccine is a long and expensive process.
According to Keiji Fukuda, assistant director general for health security at WHO, if MERS is associated with a particular animal and research confirms that the virus is mostly transmitted from animal to human, then it will remain regional. "But if transmission between people increases, the virus could present a global risk," he says.
For more information and to read the full coverage on "Nature Middle East" website:
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Nature Middle Eastis a comprehensive web portal for information on scientific and medical research in the Arabic-speaking Middle East, along with news on the research community and its activities. It provides readers with the latest science news, features and commentaries and highlights ground-breaking research from the region. The portal caters to a wide audience, from students to post-doctoral fellows to principal investigators, along with a general public interested in science. All the articles produced are freely available and offered in English and Arabic, to cater for the needs of a wide audience interested in this region of the world and to allow readers to engage with science in their native tongue and to inform the global audience on all the scientific advances of the Arab world. Nature Middle East is fully sponsored by the King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC).
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