An overview of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus vaccines in preclinical studies

Naru Zhang, Jian Shang, Chaoqun Li, Kehui Zhou, Lanying Du

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causes high mortality in humans. No vaccines are approved for use in humans; therefore, a consistent effort to develop safe and effective MERS vaccines is needed. Areas covered: This review describes the structure of MERS-CoV and the function of its proteins, summarizes MERS vaccine candidates under preclinical study (based on spike and non-spike structural proteins, inactivated virus, and live-attenuated virus), and highlights potential problems that could prevent these vaccines entering clinical trials. It provides guidance for the development of safe and effective MERS-CoV vaccines. Expert opinion: Although many MERS-CoV vaccines have been developed, most remain at the preclinical stage. Some vaccines demonstrate immunogenicity and efficacy in animal models, while others have potential adverse effects or low efficacy against high-dose or divergent virus strains. Novel strategies are needed to design safe and effective MERS vaccines to induce broad-spectrum immune responses and improve protective efficacy against multiple strains of MERS-CoV and MERS-like coronaviruses with pandemic potential. More funds should be invested to move vaccine candidates into human clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-829
Number of pages13
JournalExpert Review of Vaccines
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants [R01AI137472, R01AI157975, and R01AI139092].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Coronavirus
  • MERS-CoV
  • non-structural proteins
  • preclinical studies
  • spike protein
  • structural proteins
  • vaccines


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