As of 13 October 2014, 896 cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been reported to public health authorities worldwide, including 357 deaths — 40% of patients die within 30–40 days of the onset of symptoms. Most of the cases have been in the Middle East, with hundreds of new cases in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in spring 2014.

With millions of Muslims visiting Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage each October, the fear is that the virus — which has no effective vaccine or treatment — could rapidly spread beyond the region, costing countless human lives. Researchers are investigating a variety of methods to combat the virus, from using combinations of approved drugs to experimental vaccine strategies.