Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ain't no thing like MERS-CoV, 'cept MERS-CoV...

Probably little obscure if you haven't been fanatically watching every Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer for the past year and a half-but I guess I just like to make you work for it.

What follows tonight (my time) are some further additions to what has become the saga of whether the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is not a naturally circulating virus, but in fact an engineered or cultured weapon of (very ineffectual) terror?

Not sure if you can guess but I'm in the natural camp.

Last week (was it just last Friday?) I learned of a paper by Professor Raina MacIntyre published in Environment Systems and Decisions.(1) This was thanks to having butted in on a Twitter conversation between Alexandra PhelanMaia Majumder and Stephen Goldstein. In this paper there was the suggestion that MERS-CoV was deliberately released. This possibility was concluded after applying a risk analysis approach to publicly available data with an aim to "shift the paradigms of thinking about emerging infectious diseases". One of the articles search keywords is Bioterrorism.

A conclusion of s was that "When a new infectious disease emerges, bioterrorism, unless it is caused by an eradicated disease such as smallpox, may not be easily recognized for what it is unless we consider the possibility." Dr McIntyre also wrote a piece for the Conversation (3), multiple pieces for her facebook page (4) and one for the School of Public Health and Community Medicine UNSW.(5) On Twitter, Dr MacIntyre noted...
We aired our surprise about this, as did some others, and things got misquoted...

...and then took a turn away from seeking answers...
For a list of all the Tweets (I believe), please check out my Storify timeline.(2)

So, to share our concerns, we wrote, with the oversight of an expert Editor, a 900-word piece also for the Conversation.(4) Check out its comments for added detail too.

We also wrote a longer piece for this blog, which will follow in the next post.

References...
  1. The discrepant epidemiology of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10669-014-9506-5/fulltext.html#Sec3
  2. A Storify timline of our exchange about the paper in 1.
    https://storify.com/MackayIM/evoking-bioterrorism-as-a-cause-of-sporadic-mers-i
  3. https://theconversation.com/mers-coronavirus-animal-source-or-deliberate-release-29690
  4. https://www.facebook.com/ProfRainaMacIntyre
  5. https://www.facebook.com/sphcmunsw/posts/269065343283155