June 3 2014
On April 21, after Saudi King Abdullah al Rabeeah told a news conference he had no idea why the Middle East Respiratory-Coronavirus, or MERS, was surging and leading to hundreds of death, Saudi Arabia fired its health minister. "Surprisingly" this scapegoating did nothing to resolve the problem and overnight Reuters reported that yet another Saudi health official had lost his job: "Saudi Arabia has sacked Deputy Health Minister Ziad Memish who has been criticized by some international scientists over his handling of the deadly MERS virus that has infected 575 people in the kingdom and spread around the world. Memish was a key figure in Saudi Arabia's efforts to contain the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a virus that causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia."
"Acting Health Minister Adel Fakieh has issued a decision today to relieve Deputy Health Minister Doctor Ziad Memish from his position," said a statement posted on the ministry's website in Arabic on Monday. It did not elaborate.Memish was criticized by international scientists interviewed for a Reuters Special Report last month for what they saw as a reluctance to collaborate with some specialist laboratories around the world offering to help investigate the possible source of MERS and explore how it spreads.
Amusingly, now that the horse, er virus, has left the stable, all the experts are coming to the fore and demanding to know why the full severity of the problem wasn't revealed previously (oddly comparable to the Fukushima disaster).
Experts say the rising number of infections and deaths could have been stopped well within the two years since MERS first emerged - and would have been if Saudi authorities had been more open to outside help offered by specialist teams around the world with the technology, know-how and will to conduct scientific studies.
Ironic, because had Saudi Arabia done just that, the same experts would be blaming the nation for inciting panic and leading to a self-imposed quarantine until the problem was solved.
This latest sacking also came at a time when conventional wisdom held that 190 people in Saudi Arabia had been killed since the disease was identified.
So now that all the scapegoats have been terminated, it is time for Saudi Arabia to pull a GM (where so far the new/old CEO is still in her position), and reveal just how serious the problem truly is. Moments ago AP reported that according to the latest Saudi data a whopping 282 deaths have been confirmed as a result of 688 infections: a fatality rate of 40%!
Circa says that Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry reported on June 3 that "after reviewing its records, it discovered 113 confirmed cases of MERS not previously included in nationwide totals. The discovery brings the country's total cases to 688; the death toll was raised to 282 from 190."
It just "discovered" that today? Was the previous number of fatalities calculated using a wrong ISM seasonal adjustment factor?
So now that the true severity of the problem has been disclosed (and one wonders how many more deaths will be "discovered"), it begs the question what will happen to all those other countries were MERS has been reported:
Cases have been reported in Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Tunisia. Countries in Europe and Asia also reported cases among travelers to the Middle East and people who have had contact with such travelers. The virus was identified in Sept. 2012 and has no cure or vaccine.
Having run out of human scapegoats, Saudi is resorting to a new target to carry the blame: camels.
A team of researchers in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia on April 29 said that the recent MERS outbreak can be traced back to camels. It's unclear how humans contracted the virus from camels, but the animals' meat and milk could have done it, researchers say.
So on the off chances readers have been drinking Saudi camel milk, here are your options:
In June 2013, researchers published findings that MERS spreads during dialysis treatments, in intensive care units, and when a patient is transferred between facilities. While they were able to determine that its incubation period is 5.2 days, they couldn't determine how it spreads.Ribavirin and interferon, two antivirals used to protect monkeys from MERS, showed promising signs that they could help humans, according to a study published in the journal Nature in Sept. 2013. Researchers said the health of three rhesus monkeys with the virus improved after taking the drugs.
We await for the Wall Street experts to explain how this is bullish for all stocks, not just makers of ribavirin and interferon.
And speaking of countries that have yet to "review their records", whatever happened to China's bird flu epidemic, or has that too been successfully swept under the carpet for the time being?