Promising Experimental Vaccine Reduces Malaria in African Children by Half
A breakthrough in the public health efforts to combat malaria is underway. Results for a potential malaria vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, look very promising. A study in Africa shows an experimental treatment administered to young children cuts their risk of getting malaria by half. The vaccine testing is in its final stage, but initial results were released on Tuesday. Scientists have tried for decades to come up with a malaria vaccine.
As with any clinical vaccine test, the next steps would be to see its safety and efficacy when given to infants. Another question would be how long the protection will last. The data must then be reviewed by different government regulatory agencies throughout Europe and the individual African countries. With these processes, the vaccine may not be available for another three years.
According to the World Health Organization: Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquito.
- Malaria was responsible for 781,000 deaths in 2009, most of which were among African children.
- Most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every 45 seconds of malaria.
- Even though the majority of cases and deaths are in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America are also affected. (Source: World Health Organization)
The current measures against malaria include administering anti-malarial drugs and preventing infection by providing mosquito bed netting (http://www.nothingbutnets.net/) and insecticides. Even though the early results of the malaria vaccine show 50% effectiveness (significantly lower than more common vaccines), a vaccine of this nature could potentially save countless lives.