Funding Committee Formed for Manufacture of MERS Vaccine

A graphic posted on the Health Ministry’s website showing that since June 2012, a total of 1,276 people have been infected with MERS in the kingdom, of which 547 patients have died and 726 have recovered.

RIYADH: A committee comprising local and international financiers headed by Saudi Arabia was formed in the Kingdom to fund the manufacture of a vaccine for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The committee was set up at the MERS Vaccine Development Workshop which concluded in Riyadh on Sunday.

The event was organized by the King Abdul Aziz City For Science and Technology ( KACST) in cooperation with the Ministry of Health under the patronage of Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih.

The committee, comprising representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), Qatar Foundation, KACST, Islamic Development Bank, (IDB) and several other local and international funding bodies, will be headed by Deputy Minister of Public Health Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saeed.

It was estimated that around $200 million would be needed for the manufacture of such vaccines. The proposal will be presented at the WHO conference on MERS which will be held next month in Geneva.

Ministry of Health spokesman Faisal bin Saeed Al-Zahrani said the conference was attended by many experts and specialists from inside and outside the Kingdom. It reviewed many MERS-CoV-related scientific and research papers, as well as deals submitted by concerned research companies.

The conference also formed an international scientific consortium, comprising the Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH), the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO) to produce immunotherapy and an anti-coronavirus vaccine, as well as supporting the production research on a coronavirus vaccine to curb the virus’ spread. The consortium includes experts from WHO, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), and International Vaccine Institute (IVI).

Around 87 scholars and experts on vaccine production participated from different countries such as the US, Canada, Korea, China, the Netherlands, Australia and Germany, in addition to Saudi scientists. A number of companies specialized in the field of vaccination presented their research findings at the conference.

Dr. Bin Saeed said that since 2012, there had been 1,275 MERS-CoV cases including 547 deaths reported in the Kingdom.

Last week the MoH, KACST and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) signed a memorandum of understanding for joint cooperation that supports research related to MERS-CoV.

Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al-Saud, president of KACST, explained that the city has agreed on a common framework with the MoH and MoA to support the two ministries’ efforts in research and technology transfer in order to control the spread of MERS-CoV in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Through this agreement, KACST will contribute in providing necessary technical and financial support of research, as well as harnessing its infrastructure of the specialized laboratories and highly advanced digital structure to create a national database for MERS-CoV, and then expand it to include all communicable diseases in the Kingdom,” he said.

Minister of Health Khalid Al-Falih emphasized the importance of the role that scientific research plays in building national capacity and enabling them to confront epidemic diseases. Therefore, the ministry needs to be open to all researchers and research centers in order to integrate efforts in combating and controlling epidemic diseases, including corona, based on scientific and technical grounds to ensure the health and welfare of citizens and residents.

Minister of Agriculture Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli indicated that the ministry welcomes all kinds of scientific cooperation that aims to develop the capabilities of its employees.

This will help confront the challenges facing society posed by conventional and emerging common diseases in both humans and animals, most recently MERS-CoV, relying on one health strategy.



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