FDA makes it easier for healthy adults to ward off MERS

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will take the next step in curbing the spread of the rare and deadly coronavirus that has struck in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. By giving the go-ahead to begin offering a flu shot booster shot to adults, the FDA is making it more difficult for others to contract a disease that in the past has killed more than 200.

Starting in the fall, a series of three doses of Flucelvax would be sent to more than 50 states. The move is “a welcome addition to the arsenal of tools for protecting the public from the rapidly-emerging virus and further prepares the U.S. for a possible introduction of the virus by a traveler from the Middle East,” Ann Schlarb, an acting director in the FDA’s Office of Drug Evaluation II, said at a news conference.

But the Booster Shot represents one more step in the introduction of the disease, with a possible flushing of Jordanian air travelers going home next week.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said the death toll from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) is likely to exceed 400.

But by prodding Americans toward inoculation against the disease, the FDA hopes to prevent such mass casualties. The U.S. has already begun issuing “medical support kits” to rural areas, designed to curb the spread of disease and contain illness.

With millions of airline tickets sold over the last few months, who can forget that this virus is not going away any time soon?

The other analog to this time period is the SARS outbreak in 2003, when more than 1,000 people around the world were diagnosed with the disease, killing about 850 of them.

About 3 percent of people contract either MERS or SARS.

F.D.A. says it is “too early to say how many people” will be protected with the booster shot. One version of the Flucelvax, made by Teva Pharmaceuticals, costs $66 for each dose and comes with two grams of the nasal mist of the drug. Several different kinds of injected doses of the nasal spray, made by Novartis, will be available to stop any flu from starting.

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