Almost 1,500 cases of Middle East Respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and up to 500 deaths may have been averted since 2016 as a result of intensified efforts to detect infections early and reduce transmission, according to new estimates.
In a letter published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO), the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and Institut Pasteur in France analyse case-based data on laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV infections reported to the WHO since 2012. The total number of cases averted was estimated at 507 in 2016, 507 in 2017 and 451 from January through September 2018, totalling 1,465 cases averted. Assuming a case-fatality ratio (CFR) of 20 per cent, the figures would suggest 293 expected deaths were prevented. This figure rises to 520 deaths if a CFR of 35.5 per cent is applied.
The authors suggest improved infection control, more comprehensive investigation of cases and clusters and increased national and international communication have been critical in preventing international spread and sustained transmission.
“Although global efforts seem to have prevented hundreds of infections and deaths, vigilance must be maintained by all countries,” the authors write.