As if the Saudi MERS number-fudging weren't bad enough, Dr. Ian Mackay at VDU's blog finds something very odd about recent MERS research: 1 of these papers is pretty much exactly like the other... You'd better click through for the full post after you read this excerpt:
This is a strange one.
Today, a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) paper  came out and received a vast amount of media coverage.
It seems as if all the other recent press, the camel kissing videos, camel advocates decrying the link between MERS-CoV and their beauties and camels being included in risk assessments...have just primed the world for the next scientific paper.
And then this new paper came out showing MERS-CoV infection of a farmer and of his camels and a likely direction to that infection of camel >> farmer. And, it came out in the highly prestigious NEJM - this folks, is one part of what a high impact factor is all about - wide exposure and broad coverage. You really get your research out there.
Twitter and the mainstream media have lit up with lines like "direct evidence that MERS comes from camels", "new report offers strongest evidence yet that MERS virus spreads from camels to people", "1st evidence that a new deadly virus has been transmitted from a camel to people".
There is a problem though. It's not reeeally any of those things.
These are both studies of what looks to be the same infected human (a 43-year or 44-year old man depending on which report), hospitalised at King Abdulaziz University Hospital in Jeddah on 3-November-2013, owner of a herd of 9 camels, some of whom were sick, sampled at around the same time (I presume, otherwise why sampled at all?).
The only major difference (there are smaller differences) between the 2 reports is which camel yielded sequence - it seems to have been Camel G for Drosten's lab and Camel B for Madani's - they even seem to have used the same identification scheme for the camels!
Oh, one other big difference.
Memish and Drosten and colleagues got their paper out online around 16-May-2014; almost 3-weeks ago.