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Mon 10 Oct 2016 11:08 AM

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Mers vaccine 'under development for 2017'

Qatar ministry official says research ongoing by WHO, pharmaceutical firms

Mers vaccine 'under development for 2017'
(Getty Images)

A vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) is expected to be developed in 2017, according to a senior official from Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health.

Dr Mohamed Mohamed Al Hajri, director of the ministry’s emergency preparedness and response department, was quoted as telling Gulf Times: “Several leading pharmaceutical companies are working in this regard under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO).”

Al Hajri said his department had held meetings with WHO and a number of pharmaceutical companies and been informed research is ongoing to develop a vaccine and treatment to fight the disease.

“Good progress” has been made in both areas, he added.

Mers is a viral respiratory disease that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Since then, there have been 1,806 reported laboratory-confirmed cases of Mers and 643 deaths, according to the WHO. A total of 27 countries have reported cases of Mers. The disease is typically spread from animals, such as camels, to humans.

Al Hajri was quoted as saying: “The production of a vaccine will take months or years. If it is not going to be used extensively, it is not worth for a pharmaceutical company."

WHO is playing a major role in assessing the need, demand and how to have a balanced approach in making the vaccines available.”

There will reportedly be an update on progress with the vaccine every six months.

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