Coronavirus vaccine development: from SARS and MERS to COVID-19

J Biomed Sci. 2020 Dec 20;27(1):104. doi: 10.1186/s12929-020-00695-2.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new type of coronavirus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has been the most challenging pandemic in this century. Considering its high mortality and rapid spread, an effective vaccine is urgently needed to control this pandemic. As a result, the academia, industry, and government sectors are working tightly together to develop and test a variety of vaccines at an unprecedented pace. In this review, we outline the essential coronavirus biological characteristics that are important for vaccine design. In addition, we summarize key takeaways from previous vaccination studies of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), highlighting the pros and cons of each immunization strategy. Finally, based on these prior vaccination experiences, we discuss recent progress and potential challenges of COVID-19 vaccine development.

Keywords: Coronaviruses; SARS-CoV-2; Vaccine; Vaccine development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / immunology
  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / immunology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / immunology*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / immunology*
  • Vaccination*


  • COVID-19 Vaccines