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MERS is a severe respiratory disease akin to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. MERS has infected more than 1,600 people. The most common symptoms of this disease are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Older people and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk for severe disease and death. There are currently no approved vaccines or specific treatments for MERS.
WRAIR began vaccinations in early 2016 in a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and immune response of a vaccine candidate to prevent MERS.
Though other vaccine candidates have previously been tested for use in camels, which are the suspected source of the coronavirus which causes MERS (MERS-CoV), this vaccine is the first to be tested in humans. Seventy-five participants will receive the vaccine at WRAIR's Clinical Trial Center in Silver Spring, Md.