Vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus for humans and camels
Reviews in Medical Virology
1Infectious Diseases Research Department, King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
2The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Year of Publication:
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is caused by a novel betacoronavirus that was isolated in late 2012 in Saudi Arabia. The viral infections have been reported in more than 1700 humans, ranging from asymptomatic or mild cases to severe pneumonia with a mortality rate of 40%. It is well documented now that dromedary camels contract the infection and shed the virus without notable symptoms, and such animals had been infected by at least the early 1980s. The mechanism of camel to human transmission is still not clear, but several primary cases have been associated with camel contact. There is no approved antiviral drug or vaccine against MERS-CoV despite the active research in this area. Vaccine candidates have been developed using various platforms and regimens and have been tested in several animal models. Here, this article reviews the published studies on MERS-CoV vaccines with more focus on vaccines tested in large animals, including camels. It is foreseeable that the 1-health approach could be the best way of tackling the MERS-CoV endemic in the Arabian Peninsula, by using the mass vaccination of camels in the affected areas to block camel to human transmission. Camel vaccines can be developed in a faster time with fewer regulations and lower costs and could clear this virus from the Arabian Peninsula if accompanied by efficient public health measures.