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New York Blood Center backs project to create MERS vaccine

Attempts to make a vaccine for MERS is underway at the New York Blood Center.
Attempts to make a vaccine for MERS is underway at the New York Blood Center.

Since doctors detected the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012, 74 people have died and doctors continue to struggle to find a probable cause of transmission or infection.

Steps to get to the bottom of MERS began last summer when the World Health Organization put together an emergency committee, but there has been limited success, according to a press release from the New York Blood Center. Doctors have collected data from infected people and found that although MERS is similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), it's threat to people is not as apparent.

Due to the fact that patient data has not provided information on how to combat MERS, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) and the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute will work on developing a vaccine.

"Because of its human-to-human transmissibility and high mortality rate 42 [percent], MERS-CoV was called "a threat to the entire world" by Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva," NYBC's released explained.

A majority of MERS cases occurred in Saudi Arabia, but some European countries have patients who were diagnosed with the virus as well. In one case, a doctor who was responsible for overseeing patients with MERS eventually contracted the disease — he was among the many others who died, CTV News reported.

To put this situation into perspective, about 18 percent of health care practitioners contracted MERS, which is not too far off from the 20 percent of medical staff who became ill when SARS was a concern.

As of January 28, no Americans have contracted MERS themselves, but it is possible that tests at the NYBC may go terribly wrong. Governments and private organizations may need to keep a close eye on the development of a vaccine, as well as develop a business continuity plan to keep operations going if a domestic outbreak does occur.

Business continuity consultants can help entities that don't have experience with widespread problems build an action plan that suits their current operations.