MERS Cases Confirmed in Saudi Arabia

MERS vaccine candidates have launched human studies
Camel face
Saudi Arabia (Coronavirus Today)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health reported additional Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases in the nation's capital city of Riyadh.

On March 11, 2021, the Ministry of Health confirmed one case is a 57-year-old man who had contact with camels, and the other is a 56-year-old woman who didn't have contact with camels or others known to be infected with MERS-CoV.

These are the seventh MERS-CoV cases confirmed during 2021. MERS-CoV was first reported in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2012. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported between June through December 31, 2020, the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported four cases of MERS-CoV with one associated death. The cases were reported from Riyadh (two cases), Taif (one case), and Al-Ahsaa (one case) Regions.

MERS-CoV is a zoonotic, viral beta coronavirus, and the source remains unknown, says the U.S. CDC.

Scientific evidence suggests that people are infected through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels. It causes severe infections that result in a high mortality rate, says the WHO.

Since April 2012 and as of May 2021, 2,589 cases of MERS-CoV, including 940 deaths, have been reported by health authorities worldwide. Only two patients in the USA have ever tested positive for MERS-CoV infection, both in May 2014, while more than 1,300 people tested negative.

The WHO stated on December 31, 2020, it encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and carefully review any unusual patterns based on the current situation and available information. The WHO does not advise special screening at entry points concerning this event, nor does it currently recommend applying any travel or trade restrictions.

The European CDC published on May 7, 2021, the geographical distribution of confirmed MERS-CoV cases by country of infection and year.

As of March 11, 2021, the CDC had not approved a MERS-CoV prevention vaccine. However, there are vaccine candidates in the early stages of development, such as the following:

  • VTP-500 (ChAdOx1) MERS-CoV is a vaccine candidate from the University of Oxford that consists of the replication-deficient simian adenovirus vector ChAdOx1, containing the MERS Spike protein antigen.
  • INO-4700 MERS-CoV is a DNA plasmid vaccine that expresses the MERS CoV spike (S) glycoprotein.
  • MVA MERS (Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara) is a vaccine candidate that contains the full-length spike gene of MERS-CoV.

Note: This article was updated for data accuracy, related hyperlinks, and inserted vaccine descriptions and trends: Since April 2012 and as of May 2021, 2,589 cases of MERS-CoV, including 940 deaths, have been reported by health authorities worldwide.

CoronavirusToday publishes research-based news.