Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an emerging viral disease caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) which affects the respiratory system with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. About 3-4 out of every 10 reported MERS patients have died.
The disease was first reported in Saudi Arabia in September 2012, although retrospective investigations later identified that the first known cases of MERS occurred in Jordan in April 2012. Currently, all cases of MERS have been linked through travel to or residence in countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. The largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Arabian Peninsula occurred in the Republic of Korea in 2015, which was associated with a traveler returning from the Arabian Peninsula.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent MERS-CoV infection. In late 2015, IVI launched a MERS Program with support from the Samsung Life Public Welfare Foundation and the South Korean Ministry of Health & Welfare. The support from Samsung takes the form of a three-year grant to accelerate the development of MERS vaccines, with the aim of having two MERS vaccines demonstrated to be safe and immunogenic in Phase II trials conducted in South Korea, and which can be deployed in clinical efficacy trials at possible outbreak sites. IVI will partner with two vaccine manufacturers on early-stage clinical development of their MERS vaccine candidates by providing technical and financial support, as well as support in project management and coordination.