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.
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.