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The news follows a study led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany (LMU) that demonstrated the vaccine’s protective effect in the lab and in mice.

Writing in the Journal of Virology, the researchers conclude that the vaccine – called MVA-MERS-S – meets important criteria for use in human trials.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory illness caused by the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

At first, infection causes flu-like symptoms, but they can progress to a severe respiratory illness that can be fatal.

There is currently no vaccine against MERS-CoV, which kills around 36% of people it infects.

MERS-CoV was first identified in 2012 when it emerged in Saudi Arabia. It has spread to other countries in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, including the US and Germany – where the vaccine has been developed.

The present MERS outbreak in South Korea – where 166 confirmed cases and 12 deaths have been reported – is the largest so far recorded outside the Middle East.

There have been suggestions that mammals play a role in spreading MERS. For example, one study has suggested MERS may have started in bats, and another, that MERS could be carried by camels.

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