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An orthopoxvirus-based vaccine reduces virus excretion after MERS-CoV infection in dromedary camels

Science  01 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6268, pp. 77-81
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad1283

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Coronaviruses in the Middle East

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causes severe acute respiratory illness and kills about a third of people infected. The virus is common in dromedary camels, which can be a source of human infections. In a survey for MERSCoV in over 1300 Saudi Arabian camels, Sabir et al. found that dromedaries share three coronavirus species with humans. Diverse MERS lineages in camels have caused human infections, which suggests that transfer among host species occurs quite easily. Haagmans et al. made a MERS-CoV vaccine for use in camels, using poxvirus as a vehicle. The vaccine significantly reduced virus excretion, which should help reduce the potential for transmission to humans, and conferred cross-immunity to camelpox infections.

Science, this issue p. 81, p. 77

Abstract

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections have led to an ongoing outbreak in humans, which was fueled by multiple zoonotic MERS-CoV introductions from dromedary camels. In addition to the implementation of hygiene measures to limit further camel-to-human and human-to-human transmissions, vaccine-mediated reduction of MERS-CoV spread from the animal reservoir may be envisaged. Here we show that a modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vaccine expressing the MERS-CoV spike protein confers mucosal immunity in dromedary camels. Compared with results for control animals, we observed a significant reduction of excreted infectious virus and viral RNA transcripts in vaccinated animals upon MERS-CoV challenge. Protection correlated with the presence of serum neutralizing antibodies to MERS-CoV. Induction of MVA-specific antibodies that cross-neutralize camelpox virus would also provide protection against camelpox.

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