Nearly 700 in South Korea quarantined for MERS
June 2, 2015 11:03 AM   Subscribe

In South Korea, 2 people have died of MERS, with 18 people becoming infected over the past 10 days, resulting in nearly 700 people being placed in quarantine. A man broke quarantine and traveled to China, subsequently testing positive for China's first confirmed case of MERS. Untill recently, all cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) had been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. Right now, there is no vaccine for MERS and no treatment.
posted by needled (21 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wasn't familiar with MERS and so this struck me: About 3-4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:06 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]




Respiratory viruses scare the shit out of me. I have asthma and a bout with (bacterial) pneumonia left me hospitalized for three days on seven different antibiotics. I didn't really fully recover for about eight months. I don't fare well when shit messes with my lungs.

The guy who broke quarantine? Jerk. It's people like him (seemingly unconcerned about the possibility of spreading a fairly lethal virus) who will probably be the death of people like me (people with chronic diseases who are already compromised).
posted by cooker girl at 11:15 AM on June 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


To prevent MERS pandemic, respect Saudi Arabia’s rights to the virus

This article makes some good points but comes to a kind of strange conclusion from it all. I actually don't know what to think. The notion of a Dutch lab patenting a vaccine for a disease that occurs mostly elsewhere is indeed odd and seems undesirable.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on June 2, 2015


To be clear, I understand that I'm not at risk right now.
posted by cooker girl at 11:18 AM on June 2, 2015


This article makes some good points but comes to a kind of strange conclusion from it all. I actually don't know what to think.

My thoughts exactly. The problem isn't the Dutch lab fiddling with sequencing and developing treatments for the virus; it's with them turning around and trying to use a patent application to get a monopoly on working with that virus. Giving Saudi Arabia its own, national monopoly on MERS is a spectacularly counterproductive way of stopping that.

Abolish biological patents. Abolish software patents. Restrict drug patents.
posted by fifthrider at 11:23 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Drug patents and biological patents can be difficult to disentangle, particularly in diagnostic settings.

But yeah, the idea that anyone would patent an entire virus that they hadn't done anything with yet is hella sketchy. They just got the copy to sequence first, they didn't do any real discovery with it. It seems like this can do nothing but hold up research.
posted by maryr at 11:31 AM on June 2, 2015


Step 1: Patent a virus.
Step 2: Wait for people to contract the virus.
Step 3: Sue them for infringement.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:40 AM on June 2, 2015 [16 favorites]


There's got to be a third option besides letting either a Dutch commercial lab or a religious monarchy decide who gets to make vaccines for a deadly infectious disease, right?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:41 AM on June 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Well they had better fix the patent situation fairly quickly, because the answer is simple, just use the virus anyway and ignore the patent, making the whole process useless and mooting any benefit(?) the patents might have had.

There really is nothing that prevents a country's lab from just doing whatever -- no matter what a bunch of amoral lawyers want to say. When people are dying, it's also fairly clear that armed force may be justified as well if a state wants to try and enforce the patent.

Step 4: Place a gun to the lawyer's head and tell them to go away
posted by smidgen at 11:43 AM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The husband of my daughter's daycare provider is in Iran right now and I am absolutely certain that when he gets back I am going to freak out every time my daughter coughs. Which is a lot, because holy fuck, toddlers, stop getting sick please
posted by Hoopo at 11:44 AM on June 2, 2015


I believe Brazil has done something similar WRT to AIDS drugs.
posted by smidgen at 11:44 AM on June 2, 2015


Financial turf wars are all fun and games until the White Walkers start marching south.
posted by MillMan at 11:49 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd laugh, but it's June 2nd and only 50F today here in the North.
posted by maryr at 11:55 AM on June 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Step 4: Place a gun to the lawyer's head and tell them to go away

That lawyer works for a company that's actually calling the shots. She doesn't make any of the decisions to file for or try to enforce those patents.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:10 PM on June 2, 2015


[One comment deleted; let's stop the assassination talk. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:37 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Patenting a virus is so freakin' absurd on its face. What was the novel invention here? FIRSTIES! I GOT FIRST! I SEE SOME DNA THAT NOBODY ELSE SEEN YET!

Fuckin' colonial ass Dutch corporations, why can't they be cool and respectful like in the USA!!!

/irony, sort of
posted by aydeejones at 3:22 PM on June 2, 2015


This doesn't seem like a wildly different or concerning outbreak from those documented in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, from my understanding. The index patient was someone who had traveled across the Arabian Peninsula, and picked up the infection there. All of the subsequent patients have been close contacts, largely folks involved in caring for other patients, many of whom are immune compromised. There's no sudden increase in human-to-human transmission, and the mortality rate for this cluster is, so far, lower than that recorded in other clusters.

From the FPP: "Until recently, all cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) had been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula." It's not "until recently" it's still entirely true that all documented cases have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. There has not been a single case outside of the Arabian Peninsula that is not epidemiologically linked to a traveler to the area. That has not changed.
posted by amelioration at 5:48 PM on June 2, 2015


The guy who broke quarantine? Jerk

He is an employee of LG Innotek whose manager didn't accept his sickie note after he was diagnosed with MERS and made him go on a business trip to China anyway.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:12 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


She doesn't make any of the decisions to file for or try to enforce those patents.

Just to be clear, this was totally hyperbole -- the "gun" in this case being the sovereignty of a nation and the guns used to hold it in an abstract sense. I will say however, that this is kind of a standard lawyer's dodge -- if you willing lie down with flea-ridden dogs, don't be surprised if people stay away from you.
posted by smidgen at 10:00 AM on June 3, 2015


For those wondering where this is happening (most American sources just say "South Korea," which is like the size of Michigan): Index patient traced to Pyeongtaek, which is about 60km south of Seoul.
posted by klangklangston at 9:04 PM on June 3, 2015


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