Experimental Vaccine Blocks MERS in Lab Tests


As the number of cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, continue to grow worldwide, a vaccine could be on the way. Researchers with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and biotech company Novavax say they have developed a vaccine that blocks the virus in laboratory testing.

The vaccine is still in the experimental stage and would have to go through more safety testing before it could be used in humans. It’s based on a model used for a possible vaccine for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. Both SARS and MERS are coronaviruses.

Representatives with Novavax say the vaccine works by blocking the attachment of the antibody to the human cell. Then when there is an immune response, the virus is destroyed.

The first case of MERS was reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then there have been about 600 cases confirmed worldwide, including two in the United States. One was in Indiana, the other in Florida. Both of those people had traveled from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. and have recovered from MERS. Health officials say the two cases are unrelated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about 30 percent of people who have contracted MERS died from the infection. The CDC says the virus poses a very low risk to the general population in the U.S.

Novavax says the MERS vaccine could also be used on camels. Studies show camels may be responsible for transmitting the virus to humans through respiratory secretions. The company says it would need a contract to conduct further testing and start production of the animal version of the vaccine.

The full findings from the research and lab testing of this possible MERS vaccine are published in the journal “Vaccine.”

If you’ve experienced a severe adverse reaction to any recent vaccine, contact your doctor immediately.  Also, get in touch with a vaccine attorney as soon as possible to determine if your situation is eligible to file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

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