More MERS, more problems

MERS is Middle East respiratory syndrome — a coronavirus similar to SARS. The disease can deadly, but the disease itself isn't the only problem here. Two new publications point to infighting, mismanagement, and poor communication in the Saudi health ministry.

What makes these two publications important?

They're both about the same patient. Published in the same month.

And they're written by totally different authors. Jeff Akst is covering the issue at The Scientist.

“The double publication—the first in Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) in March, the other in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) this month—has pitted Saudi Arabia’s former deputy minister of health, Ziad Memish, against infectious diseases specialist Tariq Madani of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, who recently became the Saudi government’s chief scientific adviser on MERS,” ScienceInsider reported yesterday (June 10).

“This is a much bigger issue than just a duplicate publication,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, told ScienceInsider. “It really is a sign of the overall scientific investigation dysfunction that has occurred to date in Saudi Arabia.”