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Saudi SARS - what's in name?

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Pandora View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 28 2013 at 6:56am
Last week it was revealed that in the middle of intense activity on the part of the world's virologists a multi-agency meeting had been convened to deliberate on the Scientific name for the new coronavirus!  The announcement read:

To provide uniformity and facilitate communication about the disease, the Coronavirus Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has decided to call the new virus Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).WHO 23 May 2013 

Now the priority given to nomenclature at this time might arguably be a consequence of the unprecedented levels of information sharing and 'co-operation' between academic virologists over emerging viruses - which is undoubtedly A GOOD THING. However it is also an indication of the political sensitivities attendant on the new virus which should concern us because if politics is in the way then opportunities to counter an outbreak may well be lost! It should concern us all.

Because where politics comes in then information is withheld and does not flow on a timely basis - this has already happened with the dilatory Saudi reporting - very late and sans even basic data eg age sex co-morbidities and even the potentially relevant smoking status (as the receptor cells are deep in the lungs and arab males are some of the heaviest smokers in the world this might be an explanation for the unprecedented 'sex-bias' seen here But wow does that get into 'politics'!)
The WHO was critical of China but pointedly flattering KSA - see Gregory Hartl's Press Release on 12th May (the final two paras are 'political'):

Then on Margaret Chan seemed to lose patience and dropped the flattery and became the first public critic of the Saudi reticence! 

This new virus has probably had more names - both official and unofficial - than any other in history!  To recap - there were two early candidates after the starting gun was fired by Dr Zaki on Pro-MED last September: first to sequence was London; hence London1 nCoV 2012.

But the original sample sent by Dr Zaki to the Erasmus Medical Centre and then sequenced there and understandably took precedence!  And so the scientific name was - until last week - hCoV 2012-EMC.  that is why it is odd that that this meeting was thought important at this time!  All it did was to replace hCoV EMC with MERS-CoV!  Presumably to remove academic tensions?

As to the vernacular or common name - remember the most unfortunate common use of the irrelevant 'Spanish' Influenza in 1918? - that is impossible to control of course.  But strangely here too there has been a proliferation of terms:first the inherently temporary name quickly adopted by the WHO 'novel coronavirus'.  Swiftly augmented by the oddly vague 'SARS-like virus' - surprisingly the news media often used both together which was an unusually cumbersome mouthful!

In conversation and on message boards the simple and alliterative Saudi SARS is handy but the media clearly do not want to offend the Saudis - who may well hold shares in the newspaper groups of course...  The official inoffensive MERS CoV should win the day eventually if this virus becomes endemic rather than pandemic - it is clearly widespread and if the Hajj pilgrimage goes ahead in October - 2 million people in the largest human gathering on the planet and then flying home across the globe  - it will be!

Should it mutate or re-assort to become contagious and deadly and cause the long expected dangerous viral pandemic then folk might just decide to call a spade a spade and Saudi SARS will be its inevitable cognomen!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pandora Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 28 2013 at 10:19am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Albert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 28 2013 at 10:33am
Good post Pandora.  The only thing the WHO seems to care about these days is naming viruses and being politically correct.  The organization is fairly useless until they get some backbone and put the world's health first - above political and economic issues.  These countries that suppress information and cover-up outbreaks should very well have the virus named after their country. 

Saudi SARS sounds good, although since SARS originated in China, I doubt Margaret Chan will go along with that name again so she can protect the image of her homeland China.  The WHO is excellent at allowing countries to suppress information and being politically correct.  They are a very misleading organization if you ask me.  Their constant press releases regarding no new h7n9 cases in China is almost comical the way they keep hyping that misinformation.  I'm still wondering whatever happened to the missing 38 (h7n9) patients that are still hospitalized in China.  Meanwhile, Margaret Chan praises them.  

Yes, I'm afraid that the WHO is the last organization one should hope to hear the truth from in a pandemic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Albert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 28 2013 at 10:41am
btw - I'm somewhat known for being a straight shooter in these matters and not holding back on countries and organizations.  Call them the way I see them, and being politically correct is the least of my concerns when the stakes are this high with a new emerging pandemic virus.  My apologies to all if some of my posts come across a little harsh.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CStackDrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 28 2013 at 2:52pm
Originally posted by Albert Albert wrote:

btw - I'm somewhat known for being a straight shooter in these matters and not holding back on countries and organizations.  Call them the way I see them, and being politically correct is the least of my concerns when the stakes are this high with a new emerging pandemic virus.  My apologies to all if some of my posts come across a little harsh.  



Blast away, Albert!  I admire certain people within WHO, CDC etc., but overall, these are political entities with very clear agendas and turf to protect.  

My modern-day hero of infectious disease epidemiology is the late Dr. Carlo Urbani, a WHO expert in parasitology who happened to be in Viet Nam when SARS broke wide open.  He remained at his post, treating the ill, and it cost him his life.  

A few days before Urbani became ill, his wife, Giuliana, questioned whether he should be working so closely with patients with such a serious disease. Urbani, who had been posted to Hanoi in 2000, replied: “If I cannot even work in such situations, what am I here for? Answering emails, going to cocktails, and pushing paper?”

Everyone on AFT should read this:  http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1125733/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Albert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 30 2013 at 9:02pm


Wikipedia

The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)[3] (Arabic: متلازمة جهاز التنفس الشرق أوسطية) فيروس كورونا) is a novel coronavirus (nCoV) first reported on 24 September 2012 on Promed [4] by an Egyptian virologist, Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Dr Zaki isolated and identified a previously unknown coronavirus from the lungs of a 60 year-old male patient with acute pneumonia and acute renal failure.[5][6][7] He posted his findings on ProMed-mail.[4][6] MERS-CoV is a sixth new type of coronavirus being like SARS (but still distinct from it and from the common-cold coronavirus). Until 23 May 2013, MERS-CoV has frequently been been referred to as a SARS-like virus[8] or simply the novel coronavirus and colloquially on messageboards as "Saudi SARS" (e.g. Guardian and Yahoo in the UK and CNN in the US and Toronto and Ottawa media in Canada).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East_respiratory_syndrome_coronavirus#cite_note-sciencenews27feb2013-8

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Albert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 30 2013 at 9:07pm
Technically, wikipedia should reference this site after the last sentence as  [ 9 ]
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Albert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 31 2013 at 5:17am
Although the media and officials might refer to the new MERS virus as MERS-Cov, we (this site) tends to leave off the "cov" as ultimately the virus will just be referred to as simply MERS.  The full name MERS-Cov won't stick with the public as it's a little confusing for the average layman, but the name MERS will.   

Having said that, feel free to visit our sister site at -  MERSinfo.org


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jacob374 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 08 2013 at 10:58pm
The WHO is excellent at allowing countries to suppress information and being politically correct.  They are a very misleading organization if you ask me.  Their constant press releases regarding no new h7n9 cases in China is almost comical the way they keep hyping that misinformation. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arirish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2013 at 1:29pm

I believe WHO tied thier own hand behind thier backs when they went from a 6 level alert system to a 4 level alert system. Right now they are at level 2 (Alert level) they can't raise it to level 3 with out declaring a full blown pandemic and they don't want to do that because of the economic blow it would cause KSA and the Hajj.
Buy more ammo!
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