Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The UK trial is the next step in the development of a vaccine to protect people against MERS – a deadly viral illness with no current vaccines and the potential to cause a pandemic.

This is the third Phase I clinical trial of the ChAdOx1 MERS vaccine, developed by researchers at the University of Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute. It is the first trial in older people.

MERS is a viral illness caused by MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – from the same viral family as COVID-19 – with no approved vaccines or treatments currently available. Outbreaks can start when the virus spreads from camels to humans, with up to a third of all infections proving fatal.

First identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, previous outbreaks have occurred in the Middle East and South Korea, with a case reported in Abu Dhabi in July 2023 and cases from the past year in Saudi Arabia reported in August 2023. The World Health Organization recognises MERS as a priority infectious disease that requires urgent research to develop vaccines.

The University of Oxford started to develop a vaccine against MERS using the ChAdOx1 platform before the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was this research that paved the way for such rapid development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in 2020, which has saved an estimated 6 million lives worldwide. This underlines the need for continued global funding and focus on vaccine development for lesser-known diseases.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert at the University of Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute and developer of the ChAdOx1 MERS vaccine said: “This trial is an important step in the development of a vaccine against MERS coronavirus.

Read the full story on the Pandemic Sciences Institute website.

Similar stories

Forecasting how best to control and eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a major cause of death, disability, and economic hardship worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. While many of these diseases are targeted for control, elimination, or eradication by 2030, achieving those targets will be challenging due to disruptions to programmes related to the COVID-19 pandemic and differences in disease transmission across regions, which requires tailoring interventions to local settings.