Last month, scientists discovered that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), so far responsible for just under 300 deaths in Saudi Arabia, may spread through the air. In an email interview, Jeremy Youde, associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth, discussed Saudi Arabia’s public health system and its response to the MERS outbreak.
WPR: What is the current status of the MERS outbreak, both in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf region more generally?
Jeremy Youde: WHO has identified 837 cases of MERS and at least 291 deaths. More than 80 percent of the cases are in Saudi Arabia. Most others are in the Gulf region, and cases discovered outside the region are largely connected to recent travel in the Middle East. Using data from WHO and national health ministries, CoronaMap counts 829 cases and 316 deaths, including 710 cases and 292 deaths in Saudi Arabia.